Saturday, February 14, 2009

To Love and Be Loved

On Valentine's Day we tend to focus on the more romantic form of love, and that is just fine. But what is on my heart today is, do we take time to love our Father and be loved by Him?

We make cookies, or buy chocolates, flowers, go on special dates, but do we take the time to love the One who loves us with an everlasting love?

If you get to know me at all, you will find I am passionate about the importance of having a quiet time with the Lord. I have already written little bits about it here and here and here.

I will repeat a few important points:

1. We are all at different seasons in our lives, so do not compare and be discouraged!

2. We are all unique individuals on similar, but different journeys. Therefore God speaks and moves in our lives in many different ways.

What He uses for one, He may not use for another~so~no condemnation, no discontent, unless it is a good discontent that spurs you on to another level, okay? ;-)

Many people have asked me over the years what I actually do in my quiet time, so I will share a peak inside what has become a very precious time. Writing a blog post about it cannot possibly express what it means to me or how wonderful it is, but I will try.

First of all, I am a journal-er! I have to write, it seems, for it to count as my quiet time. Quirky, I know. Don't even ask me how fussy I am about journals and pens!

I always start out by dating the top of the page and my usual salutation:

Saturday 2/14/09

Good Morning Father,

I then proceed to thank Him for...maybe sleep, or the children, or this calling of mama-hood, or Brian or whatever wells up in me. Years ago I got into the habit of starting out thanking and praising Him first because of this verse:

Every day [with its new reasons] will I bless You [affectionately and gratefully praise You]; yes, I will praise Your name forever and ever. (Ps. 145:2)

For weeks I had a sticky note with that verse to remind me to start by praising Him.

Next is where I literally pour out my heart. Whatever, and I mean whatever is going on in my heart. Be it a certain struggle with sin, a need for wisdom or strength, health issues, a heartache or all of the above- whatever is welling up in my heart just spills out into my journal.

Trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us (a fortress and a high tower). (Ps. 62:8)

So, I love Him by praising and adoring Him. By trusting in Him enough to pour out my heart to Him, by waiting on Him, by bearing my soul to the One Who knows before one word is written in my journal, every longing, every tear, every dream, every sorrow.

Then I read the pages for the day from 'Streams in the Desert' and 'Springs in the Valley' (highly recommended!) and whatever verses those might lead me to. Or, I might read the Psalms for the day or wherever I sense the Spirit lead. Sometimes it is a big old study of the Greek or Hebrew of some verse. Other times it is just one verse that pierces right though!

Do you know what almost always happens? Something I read speaks volumes to the very things I poured my heart out about. I am always amazed and overwhelmed at the love I feel when he speaks to me this way. How does He do that? I marvel at how I cry out about something so specific and then literally minutes later I read a verse or devotional that is exactly what I needed to hear!

I write down the verses or the section from the devotional at that point, usually through tears.

I then pray or sing or have to hustle off to put out some fire somewhere else, but that is the gist of what it looks like.

Ladies, I share all this to encourage you, that if you do not have precious, intimate times with the Lord, you are missing out and He is missing out!

I believe He longs to shower us with His love and mercy. GOD is LOVE! We long to be loved, right? It is a perfect fit.

He loves us with an everlasting love. (Jer. 31:3)

All the paths of the Lord are mercy and steadfast love...

I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy and steadfast love...

O love the Lord, all you His saints! The Lord preserves the faithful...

The Lord preserves all those who love Him...

Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness--trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].

The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing.

For the Father Himself [tenderly] loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came out from the Father.

So, love your husbands and your children, make treats, eat chocolate ;-) but more importantly LOVE your Father and sit before Him and let Him love you!

Oh, one more reminder, be patient, be diligent. Don't give up if you don't 'feel' anything. Continue to love Him by showing up, pouring your heart out, by waiting on Him...we don't love Him just so we get something out of it, right?

Tell us about your quiet time. Do you have a special routine? Do you journal? Are you struggling to make it happen and want prayer?


Connie said...

How lucky we are to have a Heavenly Father who communes with us and enjoys (desires!) our time with Him.

Amanda Sikes said...

I am striving to have a quiet time everyday, but it doesn't always happen. With a baby that doesn't sleep well, getting up before the older kids is really hard sometimes. I am still trying to find time to fit it all in. Please pray that I would be more consistent in my time right now.

Michelle said...

Oh Amanda, please don't be hard on yourself! I have spent too many years being so hard on myself and driving myself to the point of exhaustion. I will definitely pray for you, but also find the balance between being diligent and not condemning yourself for not doing more.

God knows your heart and it is right to desire time with Him, but also trust this season. Look to Him to bring it about, place it in His hands and watch Him bring it about. And, if it doesn't happen right now, then it is on His shoulders. Does that make sense?

It is SO hard with littles and babies! It is easier for me because my older ones are old enough to take over so I can have my time. I was able, this past year to not mind getting up with a non- sleeping baby because the older ones could help in the morning and I still could have a quiet time. If it was not for them, I would have just had to trust God to bring it about and to carry me through.

You love God, that is evident from your writings, He knows that. Do your best and trust Him with the results!


Rachel said...

Hi Michelle! First of all I'd like to say thank you for all the wonderful things in the gift basket that I won! One of my friends keeps getting blessed and blessed and blessed...over and over! I told Jason that I am very happy for her and definately don't want to take away any of those blessings (rejoice with those who rejoice right?!). But at the same time, I told him that it must be nice. Well, the next day came and to my surprise there was a box sitting on my front porch. I hadn't a clue what it could be. I thought maybe Jason had ordered something for school. I brought it in and saw the return address on it... As I opened it up I had to kneel down and thank God for His "surprises" and blessings in my own life. I think God was rewarding me (through your lovely family) for not getting bitter and having a pity party. Everything in the box was so beautiful. I love the scent of the candle. I haven't even lit it yet because the smell from it greets me every time I enter my room...and I love it. The cards from Victoria are wonderfully crafted and so well made. The gift basket itself is what every woman wants...stuff to pamper herself! I feel truly blessed, so once again thank you.

On another note, I wanted to tell you a bit about my own special quiet time with God. Every morning I wake up and go to a special chair that has sat in the corner of my room for over 4 years now (this used to be the rocking chair in the nursery when the girls were babies). I'm kind of ashamed to admit that sometimes what gets me out of bed is the sound of my automatic coffee maker and the knowledge of what it offers me in just a couple minutes! I put it on the counter in my bathroom to go off every morning and just "brew" hot water. I add Chai tea mix to this and enjoy a cup of tea every morning with God. I have my hymnal on the table next to me for those moments that I want to sing to Him, and my prayer journal to prompt me for the mornings when my mind wants to wander. I also have a very lovely and beautiful smelling candle next to my chair now too (thanks to you!) Another thing that I like to have there is a scratch pad and pen for when my mind keeps thinking of something I have to do that day. I just write it down so I can forget about it for the time and focus on my conversation with God. I really love this time and have been working on doing less talking of my own, and more listening to His still small voice, which seems so hard to hear. Do you have any suggestions for this? I want so badly to do His will in my life. Sometimes this keeps me from doing ANYTHING about the issue I'm facing because I'm waiting on Him so I don't "do the wrong" thing.

Thanks for having this blog. I'm blessed by it.

In Christ,
Rachel Frank

Michelle said...

Rachel, thanks for your comment. I am so glad you were surprised and blessed. I love to hear about your time with God. I can relate to wanting so hard to discern the will of God that it almost paralyzes me.

I am learning that I cannot miss God. As I seek Him and desire to know His will, He leads, and if I veer off the path the teensiest bit, He puts me right back on. I try to keep my eyes on Him more than my path, because to look at the path too long takes my eyes off of Him.

So good to hear from you. Blessings your way!

Deanna said...

Beautifully written.

busymomof10 said...

I enjoyed coming back to this post today for a new dose of spiritual encouragement! You are such a blessing, MIchelle! Thank you for sharing your heart, and your quiet time, with us!