If this title were an anthem, I’d be singing that song all day. I don’t know about you, but most days I am so busy I hardly stop long enough just to catch my breath. At any given time, I am juggling working, studying, housekeeping, kid-raising, taxi-driving, wife-ing, and trying to be a decent friend to the ones I have. My husband has his version of the same balancing act, and most nights we barely have the energy to high-five each other as we collapse into bed. Morning comes and we start all over again. Same song, second verse.
Oh. And church. And bible study and ministering and…well, God. He’s in there in the whole mix and he’s a priority. (I mean, he is THE priority, right?) See, that’s the problem right there. I can’t seem to fit God into my schedule in a sustainable way, and it’s really eating at me. Not just that, but it’s beginning to feel like my life is draining out of me. Just about the time I force myself to actually sit down (in defeat), the words on my lips come tumbling out, mingled with tears of exasperation:
God, I can’t do this anymore.
And I realize why I can’t. Here I am, once again, trying to live by my own strength. As much as I try not to, I fall back into this pattern again and again. I’ve done it my whole life.
I remember when I was a young mother of three, I would wake up in the morning feeling like my feet hit the ground running as soon as I stepped out of bed. Those days were busy from sun-up to well after sundown. When I heard other people talking about having their ‘quiet time’ with the Lord, I would feel immensely guilty. The only quiet time I was having was when my eyelids were shut! It wasn’t just a time thing either. I had plenty of issues going on inside that made it feel like it was a major achievement just getting through the day.
God had so much grace for me in those days. I look back now and see how good he was to me, how patient and loving he was to meet me where I was. And when I could turn my full attention to him, he’d meet me all the more powerfully. Those were the days.
But these are not those days.
My babies are grown up (well, almost) and they are (mostly) self-sufficient. And for a myriad of different reasons, grown-up tasks, appointments, opportunities, and the like have taken up the time and space that once was spent running after toddlers in diapers. But I still find it easy to justify my old patterns (or lack, thereof) of spending time with God. We are always busy, there is always some crisis or other, or something else that seems to take precedence. There are always valid reasons and excuses to ‘fit him in’ wherever there might be a sliver of time. If that even exists.
There’s a funny thing about giving God our time.
On one hand, giving him our time is like a huge sacrificial offering. I mean, we can choose not to, and hoard every moment for ourselves. Most of us do it all the time. But on the other hand, we crash and burn without his presence and his help, and we know very well that we need more time with him for that reason. And the amazing thing is that, while his presence brings the help we need, his presence also feeds and fills all the dry, empty, drained-out places we’ve been getting by on. He refreshes us and restores our souls.
When I’m not regularly spending time with God, I swear that one of the places in me that gets the driest, emptiest, and most drained-out is my memory. I actually forget all of his benefits, his goodness, his love, and how that all affects my life. When I’m not feeding my soul with his written word and the words he whispers into my spirit, I forget what is true. And my mind and my heart become dried out, empty receptacles for the junk I experience everyday: stress, worry, insecurity, failure, overwhelm. And then I am not just busy, but burdened and burned out.
Can I get a witness? I know you know the words to this song, too.
But try something with me. Read these words of Jesus, then close your eyes and let them seep into those dry places:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt.11:28-29 NIV)
Come to me, and I will give you rest.
You know what I think of when I hear those words? Collapsing into his arms. Maybe crying a little bit–or a lot. Pouring out all my burdens on him where they disappear for good. And to be honest, falling asleep on his shoulders, drinking in rest. I need that desperately.
What I’m describing here is available to you and to me, anytime–every time–we set aside time for him. He has such an abundance of it to offer we could never use it all up, and we will be satisfied more and more deeply the more often we seek it from him. Once we are unburdened, rested, and at peace, we can better receive everything else he wants to pour in:
And equipping for our day. Everything we need. He promises it.
It is nearly one o’clock in the morning as I type out these last words. It’s been a busy day and I’m tired. But I will not face tomorrow on my own strength again. I will be singing a new song. I’m getting up early to fall back asleep in the arms of Jesus.