I grew up “in the church.” I don’t remember a time in my life when I ever doubted that God existed and that He loved me. But I was in college before I had an authentic realization of who God was to me and that I was utterly useless without Him. That is when I began to seek a relationship with the Lord on my own and wondered what His plans were for me.
I started going to Bible study groups and attempting to read my Bible on my own. It was enlightening and simultaneously foreign. I was surrounded by people speaking in code: quiet time, meditation, seeking the Lord (did He go somewhere?), walking with Him (where were we going?) I was a bit overwhelmed, but there was no way I was going to look like an idiot by opening my mouth to ask someone what these words and phrases actually looked like in their daily lives.
Quiet time and meditation were totally alien concepts. For one thing, I’m a talker. I probably even talk in my sleep. Sitting still and waiting for God to “speak” seemed absolutely ludicrous and a little bit crazy. Meditation seemed like something a Buddhist monk did whilst chanting and wearing an orange toga. It didn’t even seem like a “Christian” concept to me and I didn’t know where to begin. I tried to sit quietly in a room and focus all of my thoughts on God but usually either woke up freezing on the floor in my dorm room with drool dribbling down my chin, or making a list of all the other things I needed to do.
Over the years I’ve learned a few things about these concepts, some from mentors, some from books, but all beneficial and none of them left me drooling on the floor.
I have found that in my study time I do best when working on a book, a written Bible study guide and preferably with a group. The accountability of meeting with other women on a weekly basis helps me to stay focused during the week, and a guided study insures that I don’t just flip my Bible open to a random passage, read a few words and move on with my day. In addition to the fact that many of my Bible Study groups over the last few years have provided free child care and coffee, they have also provided a much needed human connection. As a stay-at-home-mom the feelings of isolation and loneliness can be overwhelming, having a time for conversation with someone that didn’t end with me either: a) saying, “NO! STOP THAT!” b) sending someone to time out while yelling “NO! STOP THAT!” or c) using the words “poo-poo,” “Elmo” or “blankie” for an entire hour, was lifesaving– for me, my husband and my children.
As my relationship with God deepened, through time spent in prayer, (think: talking out loud to Him while putting on make-up, doing laundry, washing dishes, driving and anything else that didn’t require complete silence and concentration.) Bible study, which may have been a few verses read in the morning or a more in depth study I was participating in with a group or on my own, I began to realize that our relationship with God was made to function like any other relationship.
For example, the more time you spend with someone you learn how they think. After being married to my husband for a year, I had some idea how he thought about different situations but after thirteen years I can almost predict what he would say on multiple topics. The more time I spent with God, the clearer His “elusive” will became. I began to think more like Him.
And I discovered the more time I spent learning about God, in prayer and reading my Bible, the more I thought about Him. One morning I was folding clothes and thinking about everything God had done for me. I was so full of gratefulness I thought my heart might explode when I thought of how He had changed my life– replacing depression with joy, anxiety with peace, restlessness with contentment. I thought of how He had answered my prayers, and I remembered…
Philippians 4:6-10, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (The Message)
I realized that “meditation” and “quiet time” are just buzzwords used to describe the time you spend thinking about God. I don’t mean this frivolously but the time you spend in serious thought about a passage of Scripture, a Sunday school lesson or in gratefulness for God’s work in your life, all count as part of meditation.
Psalm 1:1-3 (New Living Translation) “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”
Copyright © Robin O’ Bryant, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved