In 39 years I’ve sat through LOTS of sermons. Some sermons have left me feeling loved by our wonderful Heavenly FATHER. Some sermons have brought me to tears of repentance. Some have renewed my hope. Some have called me to action.
And some…well…some have gone like this:
A message is given about how much time we are spending reading the Bible, on our knees, or at church. We are told that GOD is tired of us playing games & we need to get serious by cutting the non-essentials out of our lives (T.V., social media, sports etc.). As I sit there I realize I need to do more in my relationship with GOD. And I resolve that I will do just that.
I leave church and go about my Sunday, spending time with family, baking something in the kitchen for the coming week, folding a load of laundry, maybe reading for a half hour in the living room while the family watches T.V., and SOMETIMES (if I’m really lucky and/or tired) I get a half hour to 45 minute nap. After evening church we go home get ready for the next day and before bed we do family devotions and prayers.
The next morning I wake up at 5:15 (a full 3 hours before I have to leave for work) so I can spend time in the Word & in prayer (because according to the sermon the day before “10 mins in pitiful”). With my husband gone for the day before I even get out of bed, I shower, dress & get ready for work – putting on the armor of GOD while I shave my legs. By 6:30 I’m ready for work.
I go downstairs to find my sweet daughter sitting at the table eating her breakfast.
And here is where it begins.
Do I hide in a corner of the house and pray or do I spend the next 25 mins pouring life into a precious child before her bus comes to take out in to the cruel middle school world?
I choose to pour life into my child instead of hiding away in prayer.
The bus comes – it’s now 7a.m. And my son sleepily stumbles down the stairs for nothing more than a “good morning” hug. After a hug and a couple minutes of chit-chat I tell him it’s time to get ready…and I spend the next 25 minutes reminding him what he’s supposed to be doing, while I unload the dishwasher, get dinner started in the crock pot, or make lunch (and who am I kidding – at least once a week I’m doing all of these at the same time) and about that same time my husband has a (approximately) 5 min break at work, so he texts me find out how the morning is going and let me know he loves me. About 5 minutes after my husband’s break is over it’s time to for the bus to pick up our son. Some days we wait for the bus together and talk about whatever random thought is in the mind of an 11 year boy. Other days I’m yelling for him to hurry because the bus is coming down the road. And then my sweet boy is gone.
I close the door.
I now have 20 minutes before I have to leave for work.
I sit down with my Bible.
I start to read but then I notice a lunch box left on the couch…or remember an item my daughter needs for school the next day that I have to run out on my lunch break (half hour) to get…”I better write myself a note so I don’t forget”.
I look at the clock – it’s time to go to work.
I spend the next 8 hours at work…running at lunch to pick up the necessary items for our family, and maybe scheduling an appointment for one of the kids or making a phone call that needed done – yes – I take care of family business at work many days.
I go home. Finish up dinner (or start dinner). Help with homework. And depending on the day head to a ball game, drop someone off for a practice (or pick someone up), or go to church.
The evening routine consists of devotions and prayers as a family before heading to bed. And usually within a half hour of the kids going to bed I’m sound asleep…and many days I fall asleep praying.
I wake up the next morning feeling defeated from my lack of “Jesus time” from the day before, so I decide to try it again…reminding myself to cut out a “non-essential”…but what is that? Spending time with the kids? Fixing dinner? Loading the dishwasher?
And so the whole cycle repeats, just like the day before.
After I close the door, I realize I didn’t cut anything out. I didn’t cut out spending time with the kids. That seemed wrong. And I didn’t cut out loading the dishwasher…because…well…honestly, we’re out of forks and need them for dinner tonight. So, that’s pretty essential – I think.
I look at the clock – it’s time to go to work.
And I drive to work – defeated. Because according the sermon my “10 minutes of prayer time is pitiful”. And frankly I’ve probably not even given 10 minutes in 2 days – total. And since it’s only a 7 minute drive to work, praying on my way to work is even “pitiful”.
And the next day the cycle repeats again.
Only this time, when I shut the door, I walk past the table and chair where my Bible sit. I don’t stop to read or pray. Because what’s the point? “10 minutes is pitiful.” That’s what the pastor said.
And then defeat takes over for the next several months.
It has taken a long time and many of these cycles to realize the people delivering these messages, the pastors or leaders that are telling us that God wants more from us, probably don’t know what happens in the heart of some moms.
Because they aren’t me.
In fact, many of them are very different from us.
Many of them are men. Some are single. Some are empty-nesters.
They probably aren’t “band-parents” baking cupcakes for 50 or more kids. Or giving rides to 3 smelly boys after a hard-fought loss on the football field. Or discovering nature through the eyes of a child.
And some moms don’t realize this is a tactic of Satan.
After the defeat sets in we begin to wonder if baking the cupcakes or giving part of the football team a ride is a “non-essential” that should be cut out so we can pray or read…
But, WHAT IF…
Baking the cupcakes and giving the smelly boys a ride is pleasing to GOD?
What if we are singing praise music while we bake the cupcakes? What if the kids feel loved when we hand out the cupcakes with a hug and a “good job! I’m proud of you!”? And what if that’s the first hug they’ve had this week?
What if the 3 smelly football boys are chatting while Christian music is playing? And what if the words from the Christian music are planting seeds in their hearts?
What if we cut that out, moms?
What if we cut that out because according to what was said at the pulpit Sunday “it’s time away from GOD. And we need to cut out the unnecessary stuff of this life.”
What if we didn’t pour life in to our kids…and other kids GOD has placed in our path?
What if we just curl up in a corner, ignoring the world so we can pray and read?
Yes – Jesus went away to spend time in prayer.
But, Jesus also spent time pouring HIS love out on the people in this world. People who needed love.
We are placed in this world, not to pull completely away & only spend time at church or hiding away in a corner of the house praying. GOD places us in this world to be “salt & light” (Matthew 5:13-16).
I have had to fight hard against the defeat I feel from messages like this.
I’ve asked GOD to forgive me for my “pitiful” life of prayer & study.
“Please Me. Not others.” “Encourage the children now. They need it so they can encourage others. And the opportunity to pour into them will be gone soon enough.” Those have been the words HE has placed in my heart.
And now I worry less about the QUANTITY of time I spend in prayer or reading. I realize I am at a stage in my life where I do not get 1 hour alone – except for the 1 hour each morning while I get ready for work. And sometimes that hour gets interrupted.
I worry more about the QUALITY of the time I have. I spend my morning singing praise music while get ready in the morning or loading the dishwasher. And my singing is often interspersed with prayers. I write out Bible verses – some days none. Some days one. And sometimes it might take me a week to work through a section of a book calling me “deeper” in my relationship with GOD.
This fall my daughter asked me to start praying the armor on her before she leaves in the morning. I had been doing that quietly as I get ready for work in the morning. She never knew. So we began praying it on together before she leaves. We don’t remember to do it every day, in fact more days than not she has rushed out the door to catch the bus without us doing it together (although I still do it alone each morning).
But, why did she ask me to do that?
Because I spend time with her in the mornings. Not locked away alone. I listen to her heart. Listen to her fears. And we pray when the moment calls for it.
And HE has shown me that in just 5 short months my morning routine will change forever. “Soon enough” is just around the corner. Soon both of them will be getting on the bus at the same time. Soon I will have a full hour of prayer and study to myself.
But soon is not today.
My heart has been full and I have had so much peace over the past couple of months because I finally stopped trying to live up to pulpit expectations. I stopped letting the enemy play with my mind.
Recently I sat in another service like this. One that would have left me feeling defeated by the end of the week. And for the first time EVER I had a heart full of peace.
Peace in knowing that God is pleased with me right where I am today.