Thursday, July 13, 2017

How Devoted Are You?

Summer break never lives up to my expectations. 

I guess I should rephrase that.  Summer is great, but I get so caught up in summer break I forget all my well-laid plans.  Every April, I start dreaming about all the awesome, organized, restful, adventurous things I hope to accomplish and then about mid-July, I start feeling summer slipping through my fingers.  I’ll be back at school in a few short weeks, with months to endure before the next summer break.  It’s a vicious cycle, really.  I plan big, but enjoy being lazy...I mean restful.

One of the most important plans forgotten is the planned morning devotion, reading, studying, praying time.  When I dream about summer, I just know I’ll get up with the sun, before my kids wake, and spend some peaceful time in the Word.  Just me, my bible, my journal, and my trusty pen. Oh, and coffee.  Like one sweet pictorial representation of devotional perfection.

Break hits and real-life hits and nothing is as I dreamed.  Totally my fault, though.  When I don’t have to wake up at 5:30 am to get ready for work, suddenly I’m regressing to sophomore year of college and staying up way too late.  But 37 feels a lot different than 20.  For real.  Late nights equal sleeping in until my morning-loving children bust out of their bedrooms. 

Too late for my idyllic, kid-free devotional time. Sigh.

I settle, and I use that word strongly, for squeezing in time with God during my unorganized days.  I read a couple of verses here and there, a chapter or two in a book, a quick devotional, or a blog post.  Rarely do I sit and really digest what I’m reading. Instead I’m content to do the bare minimum just to say I did it.

Lately this has been weighing heavily on me as I’ve noticed I’m not as patient and not as kind as I should be, especially to those closest to me.  James 4:8 tells us that if we draw near to God, he will draw near to us. The truth is, I haven’t been doing my part and as I hurry through my scripture reading and prayer time, I’m not being fully devoted to God.  During the school year, God is a priority, but in the summer He sometimes becomes an afterthought as I focus too much on myself, my fun, my rest, and my needs.  Me, me, me.  I hate that.

When my identity is no longer intertwined with Christ, I am a shadow of who I should be.  I make myself an idol.

In the first chapter of The Fruitful Life, by Jerry Bridges, he hits the reader hard with some truth.  He writes that, “devotion to God is the only acceptable motive for actions that are pleasing to God.”  It begs the question, am I self-centered or am I God-centered? What motivates my actions.  It causes some pretty intense soul searching.  He goes on to write:

So often we try to develop Christian character and conduct without taking the time to develop God-centered devotion.  We try to please God without taking the time to walk with Him and develop a relationship with Him. This is impossible to do.


This summer I haven’t been devoted.  Instead, I’ve been going through the motions and checking off lists.  I’ve been too lazy. 

Conviction is painful, but also awesome.  It’s God seeking me out to bring me back to Him and I plan on doing just that.  The Lord tells us when we seek Him, we will find Him, when we look for him with all our heart (Jeremiah 29:13). 

This is how I’ll seek Him.

Make Him a priority.
I may be great about giving God my monetary tithe, but am I good with freely giving him my time? Am I careful to devote time to him to both talk and listen? Making Him a priority means putting my self and my time to the side in order to focus on Him.  But really, everything is His anyway so I'm just giving it back.  From that perspective it is less burdensome to spend time with Him. 

Quiet time in the Word, without distractions.
Being devoted to God comes from a relationship with Him.  Relationships grow when we spend one-on-one time with someone and the same is true with our relationship with God.  I will make an effort to get up early, before the kids, and focus on Him.

Thinking and praying about what I study.
While devotion comes from a relationship with God, relationship comes from prayer and scripture study.  How do I know Him better if I don’t take time to really study Him and spend time with Him?  For me, I try to highlight and journal as much as possible so I can pinpoint what stands out for me that particular day.  It's also a point of reference when I pray and listen.

None of this will be without giving on my part, but isn't that the point?  Emptying myself in order to be filled by Him is the ultimate goal.  

What about you?  Has God been convicting you about your time with him?  Do you desire devotion?

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