Why is it that I can be disciplined in only one area of life at a time?
It’s so easy to come up with the excuses, the reasons why it’s so hard - I’ve got so much to do in a day. Two kids. Freelance work. Cleaning house. Grocery shopping. Cooking dinner. Making lunches. Helping with home work. Taking to school. Picking up from school.
But the truth is, I make time for the things that are important to me. The problem is that I only make time for one important thing at a time. And for me, right now, working out is that important thing. But having consistent quiet time with God hasn’t been.
And I’ve been suffering for it.
I hate admitting it, and I’m embarrassed by it, too. After all, we’re in ministry and aren’t we supposed to be praying and fasting and in sackcloth and ashes every day?? But it’s because of that reason that I think it’s so hard. Sure, I go through phases where I’m consistent; where I long for it and wake up eager to have my time with Him. But then other phases come along and it’s just so hard to do it...it feels like I’m trekking through mud in tall galoshes and my feet slip out of my boot with each step.
I don’t want to sound legalistic; like I’m supposed to spend a specified amount of time every day praying for the ritual of it.
But I’ll sit in church and remember what it feels like to have that intimacy with God, and I miss it. Or I’ll pray for someone and a particular situation and remember the pure thrill of seeing that prayer come to pass.
It isn’t the ritual I miss, it’s God. I miss Him.
I sometimes think about all the things that I’ve missed during these arms-length phases. I think about the blessings I’ve walked past. I think about the encouragement I could have brought someone. The faith I could have built. The patience that could have grown. The maturity that should have developed. The revelation of the secret things that He shares in those intimate moments. Those things are precious and priceless.
And I miss them, too.
A quote from The Screwtape Diaries by C.S. Lewis comes to mind during these phases:
“The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the
patient from the serious intention of praying altogether.”
The most obvious and ridiculous part is that I know He’s right next to me, missing me too. He’s standing...arms open...waiting...and yet I’m wasting time lifting galoshes out of the mud - one dirty (but cute) boot at a muddy time.
It’s like that old poem, “Footprints in the Sand.” When the man saw only one set of footprints in the sand during very difficult times, he thought Jesus had abandoned him. But Jesus told him:
“During your times of trial and suffering, when you see
only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."
Except in my version, I see the footprints left in the mud and I know they are mine alone. And instead of Jesus carrying me, He’s saying:
“I never asked you to trek through the mud.”
He’s right. He never asked me to trek through the mud. I chose that all on my own.
But praise His name, He’ll still come lift me from it.
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
- Psalm 40:2