Two old friends commented on my last post on “Quiet Time”–with very different reactions, but with equal devotion. I appreciate both Roger and Evan, but it’s easier to follow up on Roger’s, so I’ll start with that:
I used to beat myself up by comparing myself to the quiet time gurus that seemed to populate Christian books, gospel meetings and college campuses. I’ve since learned my method and timing for devotional time with God. I’ve learned that the assembled worship is my devotional time – especially singing – and that preparation for my sermon is my quiet time. I used to think those did not “count” because they were part of my job…. [snip] – Roger (MI)
In years past, I faintly recall having a pretty pou-pouish inner response when preachers would try to let moms off the hook in terms of Christian activity. “Your young child IS your ministry,” they would say, and in my heart I was going, “Yeah, yeah,” wanting them to get on to something more serious, more probing, more challenging.
This morning, I had a couple of hours with Jedd by myself. Although he’s a pretty easy kid to raise so far, he does require attention and time and mental energy. A few bits from this morning:
- he reached for my hand to walk around the yard
- he wanted me to help him use his little plastic lawnmower
- he wanted to “go say ‘hi'” to the people looking at our yard sale stuff
- he stood patiently beside a “customer” while I went to get change
- he wanted to “go see Connie,” our neighbor next door
- he wanted to sit in a chair he spied, and wanted a special ball to play with
- he was delighted to sit in a chair near mine on the porch and read a book while I read mine
- he needed food but also needed to learn how to put his puzzle and toys away first
- he took too big a bite of food
- he wanted to play some more, but needed a diaper change and then needed a nap
Some of the above (not all) translates into part of my devotion to God, for when I am at my best, I can truly be in a state of ministry to this precious little boy. The two hours were by no means “quiet” and introspective, and I only got about 2.5 pages read in my book. But I was conscious of my role in Jedd’s life, and the need to reflect God’s discipling of me onto Jedd. I’ll spare you any detailed reflections on any of those items, but in several instances, perhaps you can see a spiritual aspect.
All this is to say that I agree with Roger that personal devotion is not expressed the same way in every Christian life. We need to be freed up to explore, to break the mold. Speaking personally, I am often the most connected to God when I am writing or arranging good music, and when I am planning worship and/or study activities. These are crucial activities for me to be involved in–at this point in my life, much more important than a regular “quiet time” of reading and/or prayer. How do I know this? In the sentiment of a silly old gospel song, “I feel it in my heart.” Seriously, I think I really can tell fairly well, because of how I feel and the results produced, that X is better than Y for my spiritual development and the growth of my relationship with God. That would be completely moot if Y were specified in scripture, but I contend that neither X nor Y is truly specified.
Soon, I’ll reply to a few friendly objections from Evan, hoping to clarify, expand, and challenge.