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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Delight or Duty?

Relevant Ministry Blog Schedule:
Tuesday - "About Spiritual Health in Life and Ministry"

Thursday - "About Relevant Women"

by Cyndi Coleman
Last week we had an unusual night at our house. There were only two of us at home and we had nowhere we HAD to be. As I was sitting down to read, my younger daughter asked if I wanted to play a game with her. She lit up when I said, “yes.” I told her to get the game set up and I would join her in the den in just a moment.

I could see my daughter from where I was sitting. She was smiling; and skipping and singing while setting up our play area; and with great care, she set up each piece of the game. Her eagerness and excitement was a shining aura around her. As I watched her, my heart completely melted.  I loved the fact she was delighted to play with me. I could sense it wasn’t the game; it was me. I felt wanted and needed and very loved. It felt so good. I smile, even now, remembering it. As I set my Bible aside to play with my daughter, a thought bolted through my head: “When was the last time I was that excited to spend some quality time with Jesus?”

Even if you are a routine Bible reader, or you are a die-hard Bible study girl, when was the last time it thrilled you to have a special quiet time with the Lord?

Catheryn was happy and spending time preparing to play with me. She couldn’t wait. Her eagerness and anticipation were almost tangible as they filled the room.

Do you ever spend time preparing yourself for time with God? How would one do that anyway? Glad you asked. Here are some things I do to prepare for a special time with God:

  • Find a time - plan ahead! *this is crucial* 
  • I prepare my space: Bible, notebook, pen, study book (if I am currently using one)
  • I prepare my heart. This may include some praise/worship music, but it most definitely includes prayer! I like to start my prayer by thanking God for his provision and care and the blessing of coming into His presence. I find that an attitude of gratitude puts me in awe of him. (Shouldn’t we always be there? - more on this later) After thanksgiving, I praise Him for all that He is. (I try to save requests for the end - this helps to keep me less self-centered and more Jesus-centered.
Once I have done this, I am excited and ready. However, there is still a marked difference between that approach and Catheryn’s. Did you catch it? She began happy and that drove her to eagerly get prepared. While what I described is healthy and good, if you noticed, the excitement came near the end. How can we work to reverse this?

The first step for many of us may be asking ourselves why aren’t excited?  Why aren’t we filled with joy at the mere thought of spending uninhibited time with our Lord? Is it possible we have forgotten he is also our Savior? Have we lost sight of our own depravity? Have we become numb to his supreme sacrifice? Have we failed to remember the pit he has pulled us out of? 

I know, I know. Life gets busy and it’s so hard. We get distracted, stressed, and pushed and we begin treating any time with God ( If there is any left, that’s a whole other issue isn’t it?) as an obligation devoid of joy and freedom. Perhaps we have even become legalistic (strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit, Has your time with God become a duty, something to check off our to-do list? But, ladies, we cannot afford to let this one silently pass us by! It is the key to everything!  HE is the very thing our souls and hearts ache for!

So, how do we rekindle our romance with our Redeemer? We decide we deserve better; HE deserves better! We decide we will no longer resist, or feel guilty. There is a fix for our problem. We do the hardest thing - we humble ourselves and ask Jesus to help us to love and delight in him more.

The fourth chapter of the book of James is full of this very topic. James 4:2 says, You want something but don’t get it. … You do not have because you do not ask God.” Later in the same chapter, James says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10). God created you to love him and he already loves you lavishly. He is faithful and he will help you!

Recently, I heard someone say, “Jesus is the ultimate gentleman.” Meaning, he won’t push you into something you are not ready for. The joy may not overflow, immediately, at the thought of an alone-time with Jesus; but it will come. I know, because I have been there. The joy came and I long for that time with eagerness and expectation of what he will show me and teach me each and every time.  For me, it is the salve for my soul and it truly is a delight.

So, let me ask you a few questions:

Have you felt joy or a sense of happy expectation before spending time with God?

When was the last time you dreaded it, or just went through the motions?

What benefits have you seen from spending quality time with God?

How can you make it more of a delight and less of a duty?

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