Consistently Drawing Near
The other day I was talking to Zach's Grandma Janet about how hard it can be to consistently be in the Word every day when you have babies. I was scared to tell her I was struggling because I had been feeling so guilty about my inconsistency. Grandma Janet has been a pastor's wife for YEARS, and I assumed she probably never struggled with this as much as I have.
Each day I have these grand plans to make coffee, cozy up on the porch, turn on my favorite worship playlist and have an hour of good Jesus time before Hayden wakes up. But then my baby wakes up crying at 5:30 am, and I stumble to her room with sleepy eyes to change her diaper, get her a bottle, rock her back to sleep and then collapse back in my bed until she wakes again an hour later. Then the day starts rolling.
The dishes need to be done, laundry needs to be re-washed - because I forgot about the load in the washer yesterday - (Anybody else??). Spit-up gets on my clothes, so I change myself, change her, and I'm scrubbing stains out of the couch.
I want to give my sweet girl attention and make her feel loved. So we play, sing songs, and I attempt to put her in her bouncer, but she fusses real quickly and I pick her back up. I look for something quick to eat for breakfast, and as soon as she lays down for a nap and I run to my computer to answer emails and get as much work done as I can before she wakes again. And repeat.
Before I know it the day is over, and I didn't have time with Jesus. Again.
When I got the courage to admit to Grandma Janet what I was experiencing, she said, "Oh my goodness I remember dealing with that when my babies were little. I remember standing at the kitchen sink praying, confessing to God that I had chosen to wash dishes instead of spend time with Him."
I related to what Grandma Janet was saying so much. I feel so much guilt when I miss spending time in the Word, but I'm running around trying to clean the house, do dishes, and start to feel worried and stressed. I spend so much time beating myself up. But what she said next surprised me.
She said, "While I was praying, I felt Jesus just say, 'I know. I know you're a mom, and I understand you have a lot on your plate. I want you to spend time with Me, and to put me first. But I love you, and I'm not mad at you."
As she said those words, I started to tear up, and I felt peace come over me. Yes, Jesus is the most important thing. And we need to spend time with Him and in His Word daily. But He knows. He knows me, and He knows you. He knows our heart and desires. He's not mad at us for not being perfectionists in our quiet time with Him. He just wants us to draw near to Him in whatever way we are able, each day. Through prayer, through worship, through sharing with others, listening to sermons/podcasts and through reading His Word.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
It's so hard to pray without ceasing when you feel shameful about missing time in the Word, or feel like God is looming over you, mad at you for messing up. But that's the thing - He's not. He's here in our imperfection. Psalm 103:13-14 says, "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust."
God knows we are human. He created us. He is patient and compassionate toward us.
1 John 3:16-22 says, "By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything."
So powerful. These verses talk about how we can be reassured of our faith in Jesus when we lay our lives down for others out of the overflow of the love that Jesus has for us. Being a parent is daily laying your own life (desires, needs, preferences, comfort, sleep) for the sake and wellbeing of your kids. "For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything."
Wow. Just wow. I'm so glad that God is greater than my heart. My heart gets really confused and overwhelmed and hurt and frustrated and defeated. But He's greater than our hearts. He knows how we feel towards Him.
1 Corinthians 8:3 says, "But if anyone loves God, he is known by God."
Nahum 1:7 says, "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in him."
Psalm 139:2 says, "You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar."
I feel like it's a trap of the enemy to keep us so wrapped up in guilt and shame that we feel frozen and afraid to talk with God about it. He already knows. There's so much power in telling Him though. And there's power in talking with someone else about what you're struggling with.
Acts 3:19 says, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord."
As a new mom with a 6 month old, I'm writing this because I'm struggling with this, not because I've mastered it by any means. Grandma Janet, with her many years of wisdom and motherhood, had a perspective that encouraged me, and I wanted to pass is along. I'm learning that living in guilt and shame for our lack of consistency, is not what God wants from us. He wants us to come to Him with everything. To ask Him for opportunities in our day to spend time with Him. To ask Him to give us the energy to wake up in the mornings, the commitment to set work aside and spend time with Him. We can ask Him for the very things we need to spend time with Him. And we can have peace knowing that HE KNOWS US. He knows our hearts.
A few weeks ago, I confessed my lack of consistency in the Word to Jesus instead of hiding my shame. And y'all, HE IS ALREADY CHANGING ME. He's providing me with time I didn't realize I had. When I forget to have that time in the morning, the Holy Spirit will remind me in the afternoon. And I find myself praying more honestly to Him. I'm coming to Him with my mess and my worries, instead of trying to pretend like I have it all together.
Zephaniah 3:17 says, "The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
God sings over us. That's so awesome. It's hard to comprehend.
This promise in James 4:8 is TRUE:
"Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you."
I have experienced this in so many seasons of my life, and I am experiencing it now.
So, we are in this journey together. If you are wanting accountability or encouragement, message me!! I am LOVING the devotional, New Morning Mercies by Paul Tripp. I do still like to make a cup of coffee, turn on a worship playlist and go out to my favorite spot on our porch (pictured below). I use my journaling Bible, and it's so fun to take notes about what God is teaching me in the margins. Now I'm not as legalistic about when I have that time. I'm not as discouraged about a missed day or two in the Word. Because I choose to continue to worship and pray through my imperfection, knowing that His perfection is enough for me.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."
- 2 Corinthians 12:9