I am so passionate about today’s post that I started typing before my coffee stopped brewing. Watch out! I am asking the Lord to release Himself in a somewhat reckless way this morning. I am asking Him to break any code of conduct we have set for Him and to reveal things anew. No matter where you are on your journey with Him – a new believer, a dusty believer or a woman in hot pursuit – I pray He will strike a match under our tales and our hearts would catch on Holy Fire.
We have had four solid days of awesome summertime prep. I feel somewhat on top of what all is about to happen around here over the next few months, but I pray what this post holds will be the heart of my summer.
In their book, Sanity in the Summertime, Dillow and Arp devoted a chapter to Mom’s and their relationship with the Lord: “We’ve given lots of suggestions for making summer sane, but if your priorities are out of order, all you good planning will be to no avail. Here is a list of our priorities:
6. Outside your home
If you are a single parent, adapt your priority list for you own situation – of course. We’ve seen how our relationship with our family can grow this summer by spending quality time with them. In the same way, our relationship with God will grow as we put Him first in our lives and spend time with Him.”
All of my planning, all of the charts, the take along bags, the Crenshaw family rules….all of it is in vain if I am not coming before Him. ULTIMATELY, this summer, I want my children to experience Christ. Without Him, I am nothing but a poser. Let me explain…
I will never forget a talk I heard my friend Heather Wooten give years ago. (Hi Heather, if you’re reading :). She was speaking on the fruit of the Spirit (Galations 5:22) and she explained that in our OWN effort, if we try to muster up the things of God – love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control – we’ll come up short everytime. She then unveiled a bowl of Fruit Loops. Fruity, yes. Colorful, yes. But it’s not fruit. It is imitation, posing, fraudulent fruit. But, if we allow the power of God, the Holy Spirit to take hold of our lives and have his Holy way with us, IT IS THEN we produce His true nature – Heather then unveiled a bowl of fresh, luscious fruit. Beautiful, nutritious, rich fruit. Think about that. NO ONE can create fruit. We can take part in growing it, yes, but MAN can NOT manufacture it on a machine. It can not be recreated.
So be it with the things of God. I can do lots of Godly-ish things. I can serve with a smile, be friendly, hospitable, visit the elderly, even be patient with my kids, but I am a fraud if HE is not my motivation. I’m a poser. This summer, I do not want to pose as a Godly mom. I want Him – all of Him. I want God to do something down right amazing and I want my kids to watch Him do it. I want them to see something in me that I can not manufacture.
So how do we get there? According to Dillow we mark out time to draw closer to Him. Think about a tangible, earthly friendship. We are closest to the friend with whom we talk to everyday. Share life. Share shortcomings. Spend the most time. These people are titled our best friends. Likewise, our relationship with God grows as we move closer to Him.
Arp writes, “Your Quiet Time is a time for you to draw apart with God. It is a special time for you to talk with Him about the events of the day, your growth with Him, your concerns, your blessings. A Quiet Time is not a time to quietly prepare your Sunday School lesson….” In today’s culture, I’d say it’s not a time to quietly email, send a facebook message or google Jesus. He doesn’t want to be googled, he wants to be touched. Your Quiet Time is “a time set aside to deepen your knowledge of the Lord, to enrich your own personal relationship with Him on a very personal basis. No matter how old you are in the Lord or how closely you walk with Him, this time of intimacy will always be necessary.”
I’d say that the words “Quiet Time” evoke a lot of different emotions out there. Having little kids I KNOW how difficult it is to map out MORE time in our day to retreat away with God. I know. The irony is this – we have never needed Him more. Can I get an Amen from somebody on that? I have never felt more depleted, more needy, more fleshly, more frustrated, more defeated than I do as a mother. As exhilarating as motherhood is, it is equally as exhausting. We need God in this season of life in a very powerful way.
So, no guilt from me….I could write a book on struggling to spend time with God. But I will say, once I woke up and realized that my life, my marriage and my relations with my children depended on Him – I found the time, by golly.
Arp encourages readers to try the following:
1. Pick a time. We suggest taking a least fifteen minutes a day to spend alone with God. Its great if you can find half an hour, or maybe even an hour. The amount of time may vary but the important thing is to spend time with Him on a regular basis.
2. Pick a place – living room, bedroom, or a favorite chair.
3. Pick an emphasis – one summer we decided to emphasize good interpersonal communication, and the long hot days of family togetherness gave us many opportunities for instant application!
For me, I meet with the Lord at the kitchen table (hence that tablecloth that is in just about every picture I’ve posted). I meet with Him early before the kids wake up. This is just my thing – not necessarily that way to go for everyone. I’m just early to rise. And as far as an emphasis, that will depend on where you are in your journey. As a newer believer, maybe devote the summer to reading through one of the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Sanity in the Summertime has a Study of Proverbs in the back of the book that I am going to walk through over the next twelve weeks.
I know a lot of you are reading this blog and your years following the Lord far exceed mine. You love Him deeply and already have an established pattern with Him. My challenge to you is to ask the Lord to do more. In that established time, I pray He will well up any dormant passion you have for Him. I pray against mediocrity for ALL of us. I pray He will blow the top off this summer. I want my kids to remember me – wild about Jesus, wild about their daddy and wild about them. I pray this will be my legacy.
In closing, read about Mary Magdalene. This woman is mentioned five times in the Bible and each time she is found at the feet of Jesus. Although we are making lots of list and planning so many fun things for our families this summer, I pray our hearts would looks like Mary’s. I pray that we would choose “what is better” this summer and not be like Martha – worried about so “many things.”
Our Summertime Sanity starts here – at the feet of Jesus.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42