Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How Quiet Times Saved My Life

I've been reading my old quiet time journals from 25 years ago. The entries show how deeply absorbed I was in my worship of God and appreciation of all that He had done for me. I kept the journals without thinking about someday reading them when I was a middle aged woman. I kept the journals to somehow capture the "now" of my experience of God, almost like a snapshot. I often wrote about the inadequacy of words to describe my adoration for my Lord and Savior and my gratitude for all He did for me, but I kept writing anyway.

As I think back to those days, I had a lot of problems. But I think those passionate times of prayer and reading the Bible helped me more than any counseling session because I saw God as bigger than my life and the difficulties my life brings me. I longed to see His love and goodness despite whatever confusion and pain I encountered. When I finally began counseling fifteen years later, my experienced therapist asked me how I survived. My only answer was God's love and those deep times in my devotional life. And after five years of meeting with her, she told me I had reached a level of healing she rarely ever sees. She said that my grounded faith in God and His Word made the difference. I thought about it later, and I think that was close to the words of Jesus when he said, "Your faith has healed you..."

I was going through an especially lonely time when I wrote the following in 1985:

"Jesus, I thank you for giving me love. I need that assurance even when I fail to obey with a full heart, to respond more confidently to Your promise, to speak up, to be open hearted. Always fearful. But I turn to You, I feel Your smile, Your welcome. My encourager is my LORD. You've told me to be strong, to be courageous, even when I am criticized, when I'm mocked, or hurt, or accused, or judged. If it wasn't for You, how would have I been able to pick myself up?

No wonder when Joseph said 'How can I sin this great sin against God?' It was unthinkable to betray Potiphar, and twice that to grieve God. Joseph knew You, he knew You well. Jesus, may I know you as well as your mother Mary? As well as Moses who looked forward to Your coming? I want intimacy with You Jesus. To trust You..."

I can't remember the exact circumstances I was going through at the time. It was during the summer and generally during those times with my family and at work, I was trying to share the Gospel and encountering resistance and rejection. Along with that and all the other aspects of my family dysfunction probably was overwhelming and it made sense that I could only stand under the pressure with significant times alone with God. I loved my family and longed for them to taste the goodness of God, and it grieved me that they didn't believe.

I now understand that God didn't send me home to save them, but to bring me closer to Himself. And it is often true that when I do go home to visit, my prayer life does get much deeper. He uses the pain to make a godly woman out of me.

And so now, as I encounter trials of a different kind, I know that God has a plan for me. But it won't happen without some cooperation on my part, which involves a consistent quiet time and discipline of prayer.

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