Saturday, January 2, 2016

Finding What Works For You

Happy New Year!  Can you believe that in just a few hours (from the time I am writing this) it will already be January 3rd?!?  Two days of a brand new year gone. Zoom. In the blink of an eye.  Wow!
Now I will start the New Year off with a confession....the reason why you haven't heard from me since the middle of October (some say time sprouts wings and flies - my time is strapped onto rockets and jettisoned into outer space!) So here it reason for taking SO long to write the next post...drumroll, please....I've been busy arguing with the Lord about the content of this post and I was afraid - okay...that was two reasons. "Afraid?" you may ask.  Yes.  "Arguing with the Lord?"  Yes.  Shameful, isn't it?  But when the Lord keeps bringing a certain topic to your doorstep, it is time to obey and stop arguing.  So to start off the New Year I would like to tell you a story.  It is a true story.  It may even bring you to tears.  It may speak to your heart.  It may give you hope.  I don't know what the Lord will do with this story, but I know what this story has done in my life....because it is my story....
Growing up in a Christian home, I often saw my Mother have her daily devotions. I would see her read her Bible, and I knew she prayed.  But somehow, I never really learned how to have my own Quiet Time with the Lord.  I was saved when I was 11.  God called me to be a missionary when I was 13 years old.  Just after my 18th birthday, I started Bible College.  It was there that I learned more about having my own Quiet Time.  I will admit, however, that I was befuddled.  How was I supposed to have a Quiet Time?  Where should I start reading my Bible?  Of course, I read my Bible...and I read it even more for some of my know....required reading!  Then someone gave me a Bible Reading Schedule.
(This is the part where I must add my disclaimer, lest any of my readers try to sue me!  I am NOT against Bible Reading Schedules.  I repeat:  I am NOT against Bible Reading Schedules!) There I was with my 1st Bible Reading Schedule.  I dived in.  I was going great guns! Then, I missed a chapter.  Then 2 chapters.  Before I knew it, I was WAY behind that schedule - far enough behind that I would have had to read all of Psalms and part of Proverbs in one day - just to catch up!  Okay, I am exaggerating!  But you get the point.  I was behind schedule and frustrated and floundering and I gave up.  I read here and there, but nothing organized or planned - just kind of haphazardly.  After a while, I tried again.  The same thing happened.  By now, not only was I feeling frustrated, but I was also feeling very guilty.  You see, at this point in my life, I had graduated from Bible college and was serving the Lord on the mission field.  Yep. That's right....on the mission field, looked up to as a spiritual giant of some sort, a teacher....yet I still hadn't gotten my Quiet Time figured out.  I was reading every day, but it was still haphazard reading.  I heard the missionary encourage the people, "If you get behind in your Bible reading schedule, don't try to catch up.  Start where you left off, but start again."  Woo hoo!  That was what I needed to hear!  I eagerly did that very thing....I got out the schedule, dusted it off, and dived in yet again.  Yet once again, I started floundering...I was sad.  I knew now that even though I was a missionary, I was a bad Christian!  What kind of good Christian can't keep up with a schedule?  I started looking around me...and comparing.  And everything I saw confirmed what I had suspected....I was a bad Christian.  These were the lies the enemy spent countless hours whispering into my heart and mind.
Then one day, the light of God's truth shone through - it wasn't the quantity I was supposed to be focusing on, but the quality of my time spent with the Lord!  What good was it doing me to read 5 chapters if I wasn't remembering it?  Wouldn't it be better to read a smaller amount, and grow from it?  I felt like God had given me a bold challenge - make my own Bible reading schedule - something that worked for me.  Something that I could handle and grow in the Lord with....I accepted the challenge, and I have never been the same since.  To me, it seemed like an enormous leap of faith! So what did I do?  What changes did I make?
I started reading different books of the Bible according to the days in a month.  For example, January has 31 days.  I would read through a book that had 31 chapters, or I would read a couple of smaller books - that would add up to 31 days.  It was only a chapter a day, but I started growing so much!  For the first time in my Christian life, I was excited about my Quiet Time - I looked forward to it every morning - me and Jesus, a cup of coffee, my Bible, my notebook, and a pen.
Through this new adventure, I started allowing God to show me where to read next.  One month, I read the books of Joshua and Acts together - that was exciting!  I saw the physical conquest of Canaan in light of the early Christians' spiritual conquest of the Gentile world.  One month I read Isaiah with Romans - I found so many references to Isaiah all through Romans!  I recently spent the entire month of November studying Romans 8 - what a blessing!
And now, here I am....standing on the edge of 2016.  I have found a Bible reading plan that works for me - however unconventional it may be - and it is so exciting!  I have learned to stop comparing myself to those around me.  I am learning and growing in the Lord!  And when the enemy comes sneaking around with his lies, I remind him that Christ is the only measuring stick I should be using!