God has really been working on my heart on one issue lately, that I thought I’d share today. It’s not one I’ve conquered, and maybe will never conquer. Like one never says they’ve conquered weeds in their garden. It’s the issue of my need for Him.
You see, I find that especially since I’ve become a mother, but even before then, there are things that I feel I must do.
I must eat.
I must sleep.
I must shower.
I must see people every once in awhile.
I must get out of the house.
Sometimes as a mom, your needs get down to the bare minimum. You re-evaluate what is actually a need, and what is actually a want.
This list above is a very incomplete list, and mostly so because I don’t have something very important on it:
I need to spend time with God.
However, that seems to be trumped by my need for sleep, my need to eat, my need to see my friends, my need to knit, my need to catch up on Facebook, my need to go through a magazine, my need for a clean house, my need to just vent to a friend over the phone…etc. Somehow my need to spend time with God gets shoved to the bottom of the list, and becomes something I complain about not having, instead of actually moving it up in priority.
Over the years, I’ve tried to take opportunities as I see them to ask mothers with kids older than mine, or who has more kids than me, and someone who I regard as spiritually mature: “How on earth do you spend time with God?” How is it done when you’re a mother? How do you do it? How do you deal with the interruptions? How do you focus on just Him? This was something that I used to do, and yet find so difficult at this stage. Honestly, it’s always been difficult, but I seem to be more satisfied with my excuses during this stage of my life.
One mom said that she doesn’t ever find big chunks of time anymore, but simply has a stack of Bible verses on her counter, and throughout the day, each day, she memorizes a new one. That whole day she just says that verse over and over. I tried that for awhile, and it was an improvement. I liked having God’s word to comfort me throughout the day. It was very powerful.
There was still a void, though. I missed praying. I hated just shooting prayers up throughout the day like flares in an emergency. I missed the relationship, and the quiet of prayer time.
The answer of “how do you spend time with God” question that I have heard most often, I heard once again this summer when I talked to a speaker at a convention who had 7 children. She said that she prayed every night that God would wake her up in the morning, before everyone else, so they could have their time together. She knew that if she set her alarm, everyone would get up, and then what’s the point? No, she said she prays for a quiet wake up from God himself.
I had actually done that before: pray before bed that God would wake me up at just the right time when the house is quiet and we can spend time together. It does work, or at least it has for me. It’s been a few years since I’ve done that. You see…
I need my sleep.
I don’t fall asleep easily at night, and many times I don’t get to bed before midnight. I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination. I know that God gives us rest, that God asks us to rest. I don’t think sleeping is bad, because sleeping is from God. And I love sleep.
However, God has been teaching me that I need to find my rest in Him first. He is the source of rest.
That’s what I’m learning: God is the source of rest. Not sleep.
God is the source of unwinding. Not Facebook. Not knitting. Not mom’s night out.
God is the friend to vent to and talk out my problems. Not my sister.
God is more important than coffee in the morning. I’m talking serious stuff here.
The thing is, I don’t crave him like coffee. I don’t love him more than that precious last hour of sleep in the morning. However, I wanted to crave him like coffee. I wanted to love him more than sleep. So I started praying that God would help me want it even more. He told me to obey.
The longer I’ve been a Christian, the more I see things happen through obedience. So many times I wonder why God asks us to do things. So many times I see that he doesn’t tell us why until after we obey. We don’t understand some doctrines until we walk in them. We would love to desire first, but the fact of the matter is, sometimes we have to obey first. Maybe all the time we need to be obeying first.
So lately, no matter when I go to sleep, my eyes pop open about 5:30am. Sometimes I tell God “not today” and always regret it. He is always willing to give me another chance. I’ve been trying to more often say, “Thank you, God. Yes I would like to spend some time with you.” Turning him down should be as absurd as turning down your husband when he offers to dance with you. I want to dwell on the thought that my Creator, the God of the universe who designed the wing of every butterfly, who tells the Sun when to rise, and controls the tide…wishes to spend time with me. I want to be present to what is actually happening here.
It’s often still dark, so I climb out of bed, so I don’t drift back to sleep. I wrap a blanket around me, sit down in a not too fluffy chair, and grab my Bible and prayer notes on my bedside table. By the light of my cell phone (I should really find a flashlight or buy a reading light or something) I read a chapter from the Bible. I think about it, and reread certain parts.
Then I start sharing my heart with God. I use my prayer cards for this. My brain isn’t working so well that time of morning, so on each of these index cards I have things that have been on my mind. I have a card for me, for every person in my family, for my siblings and extended family, for Knut’s siblings and extended family. I have one for our church. I have one for people in our government. I have cards for people I worry about and feel tempted to meddle in their lives because of that worry. This isn’t my wish list, this is my list of things on my heart that I want to share with God. Sometimes he removes the worries and fixes the problem. Sometimes he explains why they are there, and helps me process through them.
When I have prayed through each card, I place them back inside my Bible. Then I climb back into bed and warm up next to my husband. When I get out of bed for real later, it’s much lighter. It’s starting the day without those worries dragging me down. I start the day knowing God is handling it. I’m sure once God has started working on me more, I won’t go back bed after our time together. I’ll go downstairs and make a big breakfast for my kids and present myself to my husband all dressed and bright eyed. That miracle has not yet come to pass.
It’s been easier to go to bed at night. I think I’m sleeping heavier too. I guess I’m saying that I’ve been feeling more rested being woken up in the morning, not less. God is not some sort of trick. He must feel like banging his head against the wall all the time when I try to tell him all the things that I need, and he says back: “Yes, but don’t you think I know what you need? Don’t you think you should listen to what I say you need? Don’t you think I might know just a little bit better?” All this time I’ve been telling him, I need my sleep. He’s been trying to tell me, “Let me worry about your sleep. What you need is me.”
I have not arrived, and I don’t want to brag that I have, nor do I wish for this to be another level of legalism that I wish to encourage other mothers to achieve. I just want to share with everyone who feels tired:
God is the source of rest.
God has been blessing me abundantly with rest, both physically, and mentally. If we are feeling constantly weary, perhaps we are trying to find rest outside of God. Perhaps our list of needs needs rearranging. Yes, God has given us sleep, food, coffee, friends, fellowship, etc. Those are not bad things. They are improperly used, though, when we use them to replace God. That’s something God is showing me.
- I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand
Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.
- I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name
- He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead
Do we have a mother’s verse?
I’d rather have Jesus than playgroups or sleep;
I’d rather know him, than than beauty keep;
I’d rather have Jesus than crafting or friends;
I’d rather be His, and on Him depend.
Then to have the best behaved children in the land
Or have my house constantly clean;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything,
To know Him, and be led by HIS hand.
That’s all I got. Like I said, this does not describe where I have arrived, it describes my journey. It points where I want to be, not where I am. I am so grateful, and so BLESSED that God has been working on me…
and meeting the needs he knew I was neglecting all along.