Archive | February 2018

Finding Time To Be Loved By Jesus

 



When I was a college student, someone gave me a little booklet with the title, Quiet Time. Quiet time meant having quality time with Jesus–telling him about my struggles, asking him my questions, learning what his thoughts were, and most of all receiving his love. 

In order to do this, it was necessary to find a place where I could be alone, and I needed to put aside anything that distracted me. Then, I could focus on learning what Jesus had to say to me through Scripture and respond to him through prayer. 

When I was single and going to college, it was fairly easy for me to get up early and have an extended quality time with Jesus. I developed a daily habit of reading Scripture, journaling and praying.

After I got married and had children, it was NOT easy for me to continue that habit. They always seemed to wake up before I did. As they got older and slept longer, it still wasn’t possible for me to stick to my early morning habit all of the time. I experienced days of depression when my head felt too foggy in the morning to concentrate. In that condition, it was a struggle to read  Scripture. 

For years, I felt guilty if I did not have my early morning quiet time. I thought my whole day was ruined. One day, God reminded me that there’s no law stating: you must have a “Quiet time” first thing in the morning. It’s not one of the ten commandments.  It was a law which I made for myself.

I often compared myself with well known Christian women of the past or present, who seemed to be able to do this under circumstances more difficult than mine. Such comparisons were unhelpful. They filled my heart with unnecessary guilt.

I discovered that Jesus welcomes me with joy whenever I come to him. Although time management is a helpful skill (and I need to grow in it),  he is more concerned about my heart desire than my capacity for keeping track of time. 

In this stage of my life, I can, again, get up early and enjoy quality time with Jesus.  But my desire is much bigger than that. It’s to experience his love, grow strong in it, and let it flow through me throughout the day and night.


I’ll think about God when I awake,
Give thanks for mercies of the night,
Listen for his word to me,
Rise up and follow him.

Throughout day, I’ll search for time
Where we can talk, just he and I;
In my day I’ll find a place
For Jesus, my best friend.

I’ll tell him all that’s on my heart,
Then search in Scripture for his thought;
With his Word, I will agree.
I know he cares for me.

I’ll think about God and who He is,
Think about God and what He did,
Think about God all day long,
Think about God and live.

(Poem reprinted from Heart Connections: Finding Joy Through Openness with God by Jane Ault)

 

This entry was posted on February 16, 2018. 8 Comments

Finding a Personal Tempo of Joy and Productivity

 



When I was younger, one of my dreams was to run a marathon. That dream never materialized because I did nothing to prepare myself for running. Marathon running was not a heart desire. It was wishful thinking. Wishful thinking works like this: (1) I close my eyes and in my imagination see a picture of what I want. (2) I open my eyes and pouf! there it is!  No effort on my part is needed to make this happen. 

While I admire runners and regret that I had not chosen to be more physically active when I was younger,  my preferred tempo is walking. I am at peace with my decision to walk rather than run because I believe it’s the most beneficial exercise for me in this stage of my life.

I’ve discovered that walking is the tempo that brings me joy and makes me most productive. Now, I’m  using the word “walk” as a metaphor for the tempo which best facilitates my growth toward emotional and spiritual maturity. What makes walking so beneficial? It requires me to slow down and pay attention to my soul. My soul, according to John Ortberg author of Soul Keeping, is that invisible part of me that is designed for and longs to connect with God. 

I’ve been reading Ortberg’s book and participating in a group study of it. He emphasizes the importance of living an unhurried life. “Hurry”, he points out is a quality of our inward life. To be hurried is to live in a climate of inward stress. To be unhurried is to live in a climate of inward rest.    

An unhurried life is the kind of thing that John Greenleaf Whittier longs and prays for in these lines from his poem The Brewing of Soma, which is quoted in the hymn “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”. 

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace

I love this word picture of peace and beauty–the result of living an “ordered life”. God has a prize for each one of us at the end of life’s “race” but we can only attain it if we “walk” according to the tempo designed for us.

We can never discover our best tempo by comparing ourselves with other runners (or walkers) but only by listening to the voice of the Spirit. He, our patient coach, remains with us throughout our earthly journey, assuring us of ultimate victory. Still, we must choose to follow his instructions.


Questions for your reflection:

Describe the condition of your inner life?

If you feel hurried and stressed, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what step(s) you could take to find rest.

In your stage of life, do you need to move at a slower tempo or a faster tempo?

Ask Jesus to show you what it means for you to  “run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV).


This poem is my prayer.

Jesus, show me the tempo that I must run
To win the prize when the race is done;

Release my soul from self-centered ambition;
Teach me how to slow down and listen

With an intention to obey your command—
To follow through with what I have planned.

1/23/18 Jane Ault

 

This entry was posted on February 9, 2018. 8 Comments

Comfort for Imperfect Performers

 



 

My husband’s favorite snack mix is a mixture of Corn Chex, Rice Chex, and raisins, which he mixes with olive oil and peanut butter and then bakes in the oven. When he takes it out of the oven, it smells so good. I could eat quite a lot of it. He’s glad to share it with me, but sometimes I eat more than my share. 

This morning, I noticed that the snack mix was almost gone, so I put what remained of it in a cup, walked downstairs, sat in the rocker beside my husband, and said,”I’m eating the last of your snack mix.” (Pause) “But that’s okay because I didn’t eat much of the last batch; you ate most of it.”

“There, you justified yourself,” he said. We both laughed.

What does it mean to justify ourselves? It means that we try to cover up an action that we feel guilty about by making a legitimate (good-sounding) “reason” for our action. 

Did I need to prove to my husband that it was okay for me to finish off the snack mix? Not really. He’s very generous and willing to share. There must have been some doubt in my mind about my motives.

Although I’ve been a follower of Jesus for many years, I still tend to struggle with doubt. Not doubt about who Jesus is and what he did for me by his death and resurrection. Just doubt about me. Doubt about my performance as his follower. I want to be the “perfect” follower. 

When I feel impatient with my progress toward perfection, I might silently scold myself with these kinds of comments:

“By now, I should have learned that!”
“God must be disappointed in me.”

What does this self-accusation do for me? Nothing good!  It stirs up despair in my soul, it makes my body feel tense, and it causes me to become self-centered–so preoccupied with my performance that I can’t see the needs of those around me. 

One night, I was restless and could not sleep. These words of Scripture popped up in my mind: “It is God who justifies.” They were the comforting words given to followers of Jesus in the 8th chapter of Romans. To be justified means to be declared innocent and made acceptable.

God’s message to me was that I needed to stop worrying about my “performance” and put my confidence in his performance. Perfection is his work. The following Scripture verse states that so beautifully!

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.  All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen. (Jude 24 and 25 NLT)


Suggested Activity: Reflect on the above Scripture and the following poem. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Then, write your thoughts in a journal entry. 


Jesus, thank you for this day
Holy Spirit, help me stay

On the pathway you mark out
Shield my soul from fear and doubt

In your love, I will remain
By your power, I’ll refrain

From doing what in the past
Kept my soul from peace and rest

Quickly, show me when my mind
Receives a lie—any kind

Help me reject and replace
Deception’s voice with your grace—

And love-filled Truth! Patiently
You shepherd me—faithfully,

You’ll persist until that day
When before you I display

The perfect work you have done—
Most Holy God, Glorious One!

1/29/18 Jane Ault

This entry was posted on February 2, 2018. 8 Comments