I’d awakened earlier than normal and I’d crept downstairs to start the coffee. Without the bright Arizona sunrise lighting my house I was a little disoriented. So I sat on my sofa while Mr. Coffee sputtered and spit black gold into the glass carafe.
The day ahead of me was packed with unusual and time-consuming activities. Usually a creature of habit, I was a little apprehensive about my out-of-the-ordinary schedule. Well schedule is not exactly the right word, at least not at that point. In my head I juggled a list of things that must be done, but there was no order to it all. Not yet, anyhow. Undoubtedly that is precisely what awakened me in the predawn hours…the uncertainty of an over packed schedule that was yet to be scheduled.
After pouring steaming hot wake-up juice into my mug, I intended to sit down at the kitchen table with my Bible. But instead I noticed the clean dishes in the dishwasher waiting to be unloaded. I put down my cup and picked up the silverware basket. That led to wiping down the counters, sweeping the floors, chopping up the vegetables I’d need for dinner and setting the table. Before I knew it, although I had managed to swallow swigs of coffee as I worked, I completely skipped my usual quiet time with the Lord. I’d rushed right into the demands of the day. I continued on with housecleaning, running the necessary errands and accomplishing some work in my office.
And that all felt pretty satisfactory until much later in the day.
As I sat with a small group of friends around my perfectly decorated table and looked at the now empty plates and glasses, I realized that was also how I felt…empty. While a few of my friends bubbled over with news of what God had been teaching them that week, I searched my brain to no avail for the conversation I’d had with God that morning. Oh, that’s right. I hadn’t had one. I’d been too busy.
The next morning I woke up early again, darn it. I hoped this wouldn’t be a pattern.
I poured my coffee and sat down at the kitchen table with my Bible, realizing I could sit luxuriously at the Lord’s feet this morning. There was no rush, no unformulated to-do list, no pressure. But when my devotional guide led me to Luke 10:38-42, I knew I’d been called on the carpet.
The familiar story of bustling Martha and her seated sister Mary made me sink a little at first. Obviously I had failed miserably. The day before I had completely pushed aside an early morning wake-up call to sit with Jesus and instead dove into a compelling to-do list Martha style. Oh, I had gotten everything done alright. But I still remembered how, instead of feeling full and satisfied after an evening of entertaining friends, I felt empty and drained at the end of the day. Not only that, but I had felt uncharacteristically unable to contribute anything worthwhile to the conversation. Now I realized why.
I’m pretty committed to my daily quiet time with the Lord. And in this season of my life, I find it easier to keep that commitment than when I had preschoolers waking up early and clamoring for my attention. But honestly, there are days when the out-of-the-ordinary still throws me for a loop and my quiet time somehow goes missing. I struggle to get in quality time with God when I go on a family vacation, when my husband is home for a holiday, when I have out-of-town guests and when I have an unusually early appointment to keep. Unfortunately, I sometimes allow the unusual to throw me off of my usual appointment with Jesus.
And, I’m telling you, I pay for it. That’s not to say that God curses my day or withholds His blessings in a sort of holy pout. No. He’s too gracious and merciful and good for such pettiness. And I don’t mean to be legalistic about this devotional time either. I’m not talking about checking a box. But honestly, I just find that when I don’t make time with Jesus my preeminent priority I eventually run dry. Some time that day I eventually have that aha moment and realize I sacrificed my greatest joy for something of lesser value.
God didn’t leave me shamed that day. He doesn’t work that way. But He gently reminded me through the story of Mary’s wise choice that time with Him is precious and life-giving. And He also assured me of something I learned some time back: that if I determine in my heart to spend time with Him each day, He will protect that time for me.
Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Since that day I’ve tried a new approach when my days turn to the unusual. If my schedule is thrown off by a sick husband or out-of-town guests or a holiday, I simply ask the Lord to help me protect some time during the day for Him. I may not meet with Jesus over coffee if my husband has suggested an early morning hike. Instead, I’ll steal away to my back porch later in the day when my husband is watching football. And if I have overnight guests, I may set my alarm to wake up 30 minutes earlier and read my Bible and pray in my bedroom before opening my door. When I’m on a family vacation, I often take a walk with the Lord in the morning or journal quietly as we drive down the highway.
I love that when I draw close to the Lord, He draws close to me…and He protects that time because it’s just as precious to Him as it is to me. What kinds of things keep you from prioritizing your time with the Lord consistently? Am I the only one who gets tripped up by unusual days, or do you have things that distract you from your alone time with God, too?