Tuesday, August 27

When I Cannot Do What I Would Have Done

I should have known it would happen.

I probably could have taken some extra measure to prepare myself but I always choose the "wing it" approach.

Motherhood. What has it done to me? Who am I? Sometimes I gaze at my unkempt self in the mirror and think "Ew."

I didn't do any birthing classes. I didn't read "What to Expect When You're Expecting". I didn't do a whole lot of studying and naturally I found myself flipping out over the smallest of things.

But what is the "it" I'm referring to in my beginning sentence? The disappearance of my quiet time. I didn't realize my quiet time with the Lord would go poof and disappear the minute I found myself holding my 7 pound, 14 ounce bundle of joy.

Well, maybe it didn't disappear, per se, but it went all incognito on me. Sometimes quiet time was me sitting in my glider, nursing Little Man. Other times, quiet time was driving in the car on my way to do errands. There were times that I barely noticed my quiet time because it was the 5 minutes I had in the bathroom to get ready before Little Man inevitably started to cry for me. Most of the time, my quiet time was shared with Little Man and, well, it wasn't all that quiet.

You see, I was looking for a different kind of quiet time. I was looking for the quiet times that I had with the Lord when I was in college. The ones where I said, "You know what, I'm going to the coffee shop for the next couple of hours to go deep into the Word as I slowly sip my coffee."

Or maybe I was looking for the quiet time where I was able to close myself up in my room and know that I wouldn't be disturbed for a full hour.

How about the quiet times where I walked casually through a park, talking to the Lord, listening to Him and quietly singing hymns of praise to Him?

Instead I found myself saying to the Lord, "Excuse me one moment while I wipe up this warm spit-up running down my back."

Let me real with you. Most recently, I was getting real fed up with my quiet times. And I know there's always the "let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love" option, but that was an incredibly inconsistent quiet time as well. I wasn't going to give up completely, so I was trying to get the quiet times in whenever I could.

As it always does, the sin of comparison creeped in and stole my joy, but only because I allowed it to. Thanks to social media feeds like Instagram, I would see snapshots of the quiet times I use to know so well....except this time, it wasn't a photo of my feet propped up on a porch swing with a freshly brewed Earl Grey tea sitting by my side. This time, it wasn't me sitting at the kitchen table with my Bible, journal and the commentaries of Matthew Henry. It wasn't me sitting on the beach with my toes in the sand while reading a devotional book by Elisabeth Elliot. It wasn't me.


Bitterness. Jealousy. Comparison. Discontent. It all kept hitting me in waves, getting increasingly harder to fight against. Is this what it's come to? Either waking up so early that I can barely hold my head up or squeezing it in whenever I had a spare 10-20 minutes of peace? It all seemed so lacking in intimacy, splendor, holiness and reverence.

But the Lord...He thought otherwise.

He met me on the steps of a little fellowship we've recently started attending. Since our fellowship doesn't have childcare, I was sitting outside, watching Little Man play with the other children while most everyone else was sitting on the benches inside, listening to the sermon. I noticed that the lesson for the morning was based from a passage in Ezra. I figured reading it to myself wouldn't hurt. I read all of chapter 3 and I was met with great conviction.

You see, just a page back, God allowed His house in Jerusalem to be destroyed because it had become polluted by the sins of the people. He had tried and tried and tried to encourage the people to turn from their wicked ways "because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place" (2 Chron. 36:15).  But there was no remedy for their hardness of heart.

Later, King Cyrus' spirit was stirred by the Lord to rebuild His house at Jerusalem. Fast forward to chapter 3, still no house but they did build an altar. They wanted to be obedient in keeping the law of Moses, given to Moses by God himself. They continued to offer burnt offerings, morning and evening. They continued with the offerings of the new moon and at all the appointed feasts of the Lord. Verse 6 tells us "From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord. But the foundation of the temple of the Lord was not yet laid."

Did the people wait until they finally had all that they felt was required before the law could be obeyed properly? Was it required that they have a building to go to in order to give all of these offerings? Did they wait until they had all of their ducks in a row so that offerings could be made from an orderly, well-kept, clean, holy, magnificent house of the Lord?

It appears as though they were making do with what they had. And I think I'm right to assume that what they had was given to them by the Lord. Because what the Lord wanted them to do was obey Him and depend upon Him for whatever their needs might be. The Lord said "obey Me, worship Me, give Me burnt offerings morning and evening" and the people were provided just what they needed to accomplish that--an altar built right onto the dusty ground because there wasn't even a foundation to build it upon.

The foundation was eventually built. Was it as magnificent as the previous foundation? I think not. If you read all the way to the end of chapter 3, some of the older men who had seen the glory of the first house "wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid." It wasn't like the first house of the Lord. It paled in comparison. How can it be that this is what's to come of the house of the Lord?

Others praised and shouted with joy as they came with trumpets and gave thanks to the Lord,
"For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel."
Who was I able to relate to most in this story? Unfortunately, I am one of the mourners sitting and weeping as I remembered the "glory days" of previous quiet times and completely losing my sense of present mercies given to me by the Lord each brief moment I'm able to meet with him.

I'm sitting here, waiting to be fed the word of God on a silver tray with linen napkins and fine china. Instead, I'm met with manna, which translates to mean "what is it?" That means, when the Lord first provided the people of Israel with this food as they were wandering through the wilderness, they looked at it and said "What is it?" and the name stuck. It was simple but kept them full. Interestingly enough, it had to be consumed in the very moment it was provided because it wouldn't last for long. How fitting.

Is my current quiet time all that I was expecting it to be? No. Is it sufficient? Yes. Did the Lord provide it for me? Yes. Will it sustain me? Of course.

My present circumstances are not always what I'd like them to be but that's no matter. When I learn to begin with the Lord and do whatever I am able to do in my worship of Him, even if it means I cannot do what I would have done in my former days, it is then that I'm able to receive His manna, whatever form it might take, with a grateful heart.