Hey, it’s been awhile! Good to see you again. This is gonna be a long one, but if you bear with me I hope it’ll be worth it!
Since I haven’t really said much about it yet, I’ll start out with a few words on this semester. It was a difficult one, I’m not going to lie. I took speech class and I am deathly afraid of public speaking. Or I was. The class, although it was hell on earth while it lasted, actually brought me a lot more peace on the subject. I also had chemistry, another thing that brought me a lot of stress. Chem has never been a strong point for me, and I was afraid of it too. For different reasons. But I passed. I made it through. On top of all that, there were other factors that made this semester a difficult time–maybe one of the hardest of my life. But I made it through.
Being on the other side of it all looking back feels good. Through it all God told me to trust Him, that He was strengthening me. For a long time I did my best to trust, all the while wondering why, then, it felt like I was only getting weaker every day. Now I can say I am finally in a place where I can feel that strength He promised coming back to me. It’s beautiful and it’s refreshing and it makes all that I went through worth it. I’ve been praising Him throughout this semester, even when it felt like my spirit was asleep or dead, and I know it has been a blessing to Him. But worship feels so much better with a spirit that feels like it’s awake. Now I know what it means when we sing, “Awake my soul, awake and sing.”
All that to say, God has been good to me. He is good all the time and works everything for the good of those who love Him.
It gets better. I heard those words a lot over the last couple of months and wondered if they were true. They are. If I could offer one piece of advice to someone who is going through a hard time, it would be not to tear yourself apart. The world and the enemy are doing enough of that (or trying to) to last you a lifetime. Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise, do things you enjoy, talk to God, talk to your community. And let yourself have more caffeine when you feel like you need it. Caffeine is a gift.
And now, what you came here for.
In an extremely short period of time, God has taken me way deeper than I’m used to, and I am so amazed and grateful. The main vehicle He has used to do that is through my quiet times with Him.
If you aren’t already having regular quiet times, you’re missing out. We get to wake up every morning with the knowledge that we can speak to the Creator of the universe and He listens and is moved, and somewhere along the way we let that become a burden. It annoys me because I also see it in myself.
Maybe you already love having quiet time and wouldn’t dream of missing it. Maybe you’re somewhere in between. Wherever you fall, it’s my hope that God will highlight something in this list that you can take away. This is how God has taught me how to have quiet time, and I know the way He wants to spend time with each of us is as unique as we are. Maybe this will just give you a craving for more of God.
How I spend quiet time
1. I have it in the morning.
Some days I eat breakfast and have my coffee first, if it’s a lazy day and I was able to sleep in and/or I’m home alone. But I’ve found that it’s better not to even then, because eating breakfast can turn into doing a couple more small tasks, which can turn into running errands…you get the picture. And having coffee first sometimes tricks me into thinking that the caffeine rush is the Holy Spirit being really present and giving me a crazy level of joy. Don’t laugh, this has legitimately happened to me. I’d rather experience the real thing without having to wonder if it’s just the coffee.
I used to have quiet time whenever I felt like it (which sometimes turned into never). But awhile back I read the quote by Charles Spurgeon, “It is a good rule never to look into the face of a man in the morning till you have looked into the face of God.” Lately I’ve found that to be very true. Spending time with God first reminds me of the value of His creation. It enables me to die to myself once more so I can interact with people in a genuinely loving way. It also reminds me of the meaning and purpose of life. And my road rage has dwindled into more of a general road anxiety (
I mean, you’re essentially driving a death trap surrounded by other death traps being driven by people who don’t give two craps about your existence–sorry if that freaks me out a bit).
This could mean missing out on an hour or 2 of sleep. That’s okay, because it’s always worth it. It gives me a reason not to stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning on a consistent basis. Going to bed early is actually quite nice.
2. I ask God where He wants to go.
This one’s kind of new. I used to just hole up in my room day after day, but there’s a world out there to enjoy. I’ve gotten into the habit of enjoying the world that’s within a one-ish mile radius with God and my Bible.
Sometimes He tells me just to sit outside so I can be in nature. Now that I have quiet time in the early mornings this one can be kind of fun because I’ll most likely get to see the sun rise. I’m a sunrise nerd. If you don’t think they’re the prettiest things in this world you can get right out of my face. God paints on a canvas for us every morning and it’s beautiful.
Other times He asks me to take a walk with Him, go to a certain coffee shop, go to some nice place outdoors, or (rarely) go to the student center of my school. A lot of the time He still just has me stay in my room, especially if it’s a blaring-worship-music kind of day. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I guess.
3. Don’t come with any preconcieved notions of who God is.
This one is also new for me.
There are certain things that will always be true of God, like the fact that He is good, or that He is just. But knowing those things in your head won’t do you any good. I know that Queen Victoria was good and just, but I don’t love and put my trust in Queen Victoria. Knowing facts about a person won’t magically turn into a relationship.
Let God reveal Himself and His characteristics to you Himself. Start by knowing that you are about to interact with the one true God, and then let Him tell you about Himself after that.
Growing up, I made the mistake of “knowing” a god I had put together in my head. I learned a lot of facts about him at church and had a lot of ideas about him, but in the end that’s all that god was: ideas. Ideas I had to agree with or I wasn’t a Christian. No one ever told me to believe that, and I wouldn’t have told you that I did, but I had this god all figured out and because of it I was a good little Christian girl.
That god started to unravel a couple years ago. Luckily, around that time I found the book Searching For God Knows What by Donald Miller. He described going through something very similar when he was young and he puts it much more eloquently, so I would recommend reading it. To literally everyone. Including you, dearest reader.
4. I let God refine me through His presence.
I realize I keep saying “I used to,” but it’s only because I know someone out there can relate. I’m gonna say it again.
I used to get the spade and dig during quiet time. I would sit there and try to think of all the things that were wrong and sinful about me and then try to yank them out little by little. All the lies I was believing, all the little mean thoughts that flashed through my head, all the areas of my life where I wasn’t nearly perfect. And then I would lay them all out before God like bloody merchandise and ask Him to fix them.
Of course, He took them all and was faithful, but I think it’s much more efficient to focus on Him and lose sight of myself. That tends to clean out my heart much faster than the digging. I’m not saying I never repent. That would be the opposite of Biblical. I’m saying trying to find all of the little places you messed up can be very time consuming and draining. The presence of the Holy Spirit refines me because of who He is, and I repent when He convicts me of something.
4. I read His word. Every day.
Ben Stuart said, “I’ve never met a good Christian who isn’t in the word every day, and I’ve never met a bad Christian who is.”
The Bible is beautiful. At first glance it can seem boring and monotonous and irrelevant. It took me a long time to learn to love it. I wondered how it could possibly apply to my life. I wondered how people could say, “I opened my Bible and the first thing I read was exactly what I needed!” when all I saw when I opened mine was usually some obscure story in 2 Kings or a proverb about harvesting crops.
Then I read more of it. And I read commentaries when a passage seemed meaningless. None of it is, you know. Finding out the historical context or realizing it’s all about Jesus (all of it. It’s His love story.) will blow your mind, I promise. When you get to know the One who wrote it and His heart, it suddenly becomes a lot more dynamic.
Also, I stopped looking for myself in the words I read and looked for Jesus. That made it much more interesting.
So, those are the basics.
The actual content is so different every day that I really couldn’t narrow it down enough to tell you. Also, if you’re a mom I realize this is all very well and good but you’re going to need practical ways to find time, so I found this gem for you.
Anyway, merry Christmas! I hope your holidays are peaceful and full of joy!