This afternoon, I swam for 45 minutes at the "Y". It was a good workout and I pushed my limits a little more to get the heart rate up. I haven't gone swimming for a while, because of having an unshakable cold. It felt good to finally get out there and do some serious laps.
Afterwards, Dennis and I went to run errands. I was feeling hungry, since I hadn't anything to eat since my oatmeal this morning. I was also feeling tired and sore from my workout. As we drove past several restaurants, I kept thinking that I wanted to be fed. Sit down in a booth somewhere and have delicious food brought to me cooked by someone else. It would be nice. It would be effortless. The only work I had to do was lift a fork and chew.
Where did I go for dinner? We went home. I prepared Spanish rice, black beans, chicken mole and artichokes with help from Den. All items and ingredients already present in my pantry. The meal would have cost us 25 dollars or more in a restaurant, but I made it for less than four dollars. Yes, it was work. Yes, it took time. Yes, we had dishes to do. But we also had candlelight, privacy, intimacy, great conversation and our favorite classical guitar CD playing in the background. And I was able calculate the points for Weight Watchers.
Sometimes, it is good to go out. A break in the routine. A chance to experience something new. But Americans are going out to eat in record numbers, more than ever before. They are hungry, and they want someone to feed them. This kind of a lifestyle, on a daily basis, has consequences.
Going out has lost its specialness as a break in the routine. It is now a neccessity.
Our souls need to be fed, too. On what? The Bible uses several metaphors to describe how we intake God's Word:
"But He answered and said: 'Man shall not live by bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.' " Matthew 4:4
"like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord." 1 Peter 2:2-3
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me." Revelation 3:20
So, the question I have to keep asking myself is, am I willing to meet with God and spend time in His Word, dining with Him in His Word, growing in intimacy with Him? I need to study, memorize and meditate on God's Word, and meet Him for daily spiritual dining experiences as well as reading Christian books and hearing great sermons. A lot of the time, God speaks to me through all of these things together. And it is very powerful.
In the next post, I will be sharing some "cooking" principles that have helped me get started. However, they are just basics. Everyone is unique, and approach their walks with God differently. What works for me doesn't work for my husband. But I think we both have close walks with God.
And another thing, why did I decide to do this on my blog?
For one, quiet times are a passion of mine. Whenever someone shares about their devotional lives, I remember. One of the guys in college shared casually one day about his favorite verse from his morning talk with God: Proverbs 16:16--"How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver." A college student who was discipling me shared about her struggles with sexual temptation that it helped that she kept reaching for her Bible to meditate on Psalm 119. Or when I asked the wife of a famous Christian author what she did for quiet times, she replied that she liked "Streams in the Desert" by L.B. Cowman. "Streams" was a devotional written by a woman who served with her husband as a missionary in Asia in the 1920's and who took care of her husband for 6 years before he died. The wife I spoke to had cancer and did not live much longer after I spoke with her.
Then, I had an international student live with us who every morning after her shower would take her Bible out to our deck and commune with God in the summer sunshine. Or the speaker at a Christian conference who shared how while under stress in the military he would meet with God every day for months without being able to write anything in his journal--he would date every page and have to leave it blank. It was so tough to keep meeting with God during this dry time in his life, but he did.
Their stories and examples made a huge impact on me.
All of this and more stuck with me over the years. As a young Christian, it reinforced in me the importance of having this discipline in my life and I pieced together how other people approached it. When I discipled young believers, I often made it a point to meet with them and help them get started in the practice. I shared often what my quiet times were like not just with younger Christians, but with other friends. It was as much a part of my interaction within a fellowship as asking people how they're doing. Yet, these days, I don't ask people what they do for quiet times and people don't volunteer that information.
So, let's change that. If you don't want to comment on this blog how you approach a quiet time, that's fine. But when was the last time you mentioned it to a spouse or a roommate or a friend?
If you've never developed this vital discipline in your life, who can you turn to for help?