When you read the words “Quiet Time,” what do you think of? Do you imagine hot coffee steaming, colored highlighters laid out, journal open, gentle music playing, peace and stillness? Is the reality more like nodding off after reading the same passage five times or getting constantly interrupted the minute you sit down? Or perhaps that dreaded “ping” from your smartphone the moment you settle in?
During different seasons of life, many women have told me that the amount of time they have for a Scripture study has fluctuated, and I have found that to be true in my own life. Truthfully, the idea of a formal “quiet time” has intimidated me for years, and in this season especially, I’ve been searching for something new and fresh. The purpose of studying the Bible is to help us grow in our relationship with God; for me, that means taking some of the intimidation out of the process.
So often, my heart and my day feel flustered. I don’t have time to chase that perfect picture I described earlier; I need practical and I bet you do, too. Look for pockets of time when you might otherwise be on your phone or listening to music. See if you can make swaps instead of trying to carve out more time. For me, habits that last tend to fold into practices I’m already doing, so I spend lots of my time listening to Scripture on audio as I walk the dog, fold laundry, or commute to work. The beauty of a lifelong relationship with God is that we aren’t stuck doing the same thing year over year! There is always time to try something new. Here are just a few resources that others have shared which I find encouraging, and I hope can be easily added into your regular routines.
I’d encourage you to pick one or two of these resources and try them out. Which ones sound most interesting to you?
Two weeks ago I was on a paddle board on a lake all alone with no people or technology around to distract me. For 45 uninterrupted minutes it was just me and my thoughts. I don’t know about you, but alone with my thoughts can be a scary place! As I stood paddling I was thinking about everything that has happened in the past few months and found myself feeling grateful that my family had a place to get away to where we didn’t have to interact with anyone. I felt safe. Safe from germs, safe from the news, safe from politics, just safe.
For a moment, I was able to breathe easier because of this “safety” but my thoughts inevitably turned into a countdown of how many days I had left before we had to return to our normal lives. What was once a moment of peace turned into anxiety. As I started to feel that tightness in my chest, Hebrews 6:19a came to mind: We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. I found myself reciting this verse and began wondering – what exactly is “this hope” and how can it keep me stable amid uncertain times?
To know what “this hope” is we have to read beyond the first part of this verse and into the second part to realize that this hope isn’t a thing but a person, namely Jesus. This hope isn’t a wish or a desire we “hope” to see fulfilled one day, but a promise from God. Verses 19b – 20 tell us this hope “enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever…” Those who are in Jesus, have the assurance that he is our great high priest intervening and praying on our behalf.
Chapter 7 goes on to explain more about the priestly order of Melchizedek and in verse 19 we read “for the law made nothing perfect; but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced through which we draw near to God.” Because of Jesus, our better hope, we are now able to draw near to God. Where we were once separated, we are now drawn close through the cross. Jesus, being both God and man, was able to perfectly fulfill the law and through his death and resurrection, he is the guarantor of the covenant (v. 22). All the promises God made throughout the Old Testament were fulfilled in Christ. And, because of his permanent priesthood, we can rest in the promise found in verse 25, that “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
To be honest, this past week has been especially challenging for me in terms of battling anxiety. I’m so grateful to be able to look back on my experience two weeks ago and find the comfort of Hebrews 6:19. For the moments when fear and uncertainty begin to take hold, I need to remind myself of the hope promised in this verse.
So, what is “this hope”? It’s Jesus. Sitting forever on his priestly throne at the right hand of God making intercession for us. As we wrestle with political uncertainty, the unknowns associated with the pandemic, and all the other instability that comes with living in a broken world, let’s hold fast to the hope set before us. Let’s cling to the one thing in this world that is able to provide a sure and steadfast anchor for our souls: Jesus, our great high priest.
I still remember how nervous I felt. I was 17 years old, a high school senior. I approached Jean at the church potluck with a relationship question and a request for prayer.
My Sunday afternoon inquiry would be followed by a one-on-one, hour long discussion with Jean. She took me aside and gave me her attention. From that day on we continued to meet regularly to process faith and life. She was full of wisdom, and her presence embodied the grace of Christ. She modeled a life of godliness. I knew I could be honest with her without fear of rejection. I knew her words would point me to my Savior.
What I did not know was the precedent this would set for the rest of my life when it came to relationships with women in the Body. I thought my words were asking for specific advice for a particular situation. While that was partially true, my wise and loving Father had a greater, more expansive purpose.
The following year catapulted me into college. It only took a few weeks before God placed me in Olivia’s small group through Cru (Campus Crusade at the time). Olivia and I studied the Scriptures together that year and in her presence was radiant joy because she had been profoundly changed by the blood of Christ. She saturated herself in the Word in a way I had never seen. Our relationship continued and deepened in those years at university, and though she was more or less a peer to me in terms of age, God used her to speak into my life for His glory in years that were full of change, severe anxiety, and disappointment.
Olivia was honest in her own struggles, and that opened the door for me to do the same. She didn’t listen to my struggles and questions to offer pity, but to graciously point me to the stream of Living Water. Her words were seasoned with grace and truth.
When I moved to Atlanta as a new college grad and a newlywed, I entered our new church body with zeal for finding an older woman who might walk with me as a spiritual mentor. It wasn’t long before I asked a woman about getting together and we found a time that worked.
What I wasn’t prepared for was that she wasn’t able to commit to a relationship at the time. She was a godly woman. She was wise. And at the time I felt a sense of rejection.
Looking back, I see our Father had other relationships he was weaving together in both of our lives. She and I continued to have a relationship, just not in a formal or structured way. God had other plans for where He wanted us to invest our words.
In another year or two I met Sharon, and she quickly and organically took on the role of a spiritual mother in my life. She exuded wisdom as we met weekly. I cherished and looked forward to the safety of her presence. She ever so patiently listened and prayed and rooted me in Him, particularly as I shared with her my longings for motherhood.
When my family moved to Virginia five years ago and immediately entered a season of fiery trial, Sharon faithfully interceded for us from eight hours away, taking her words straight to the throne room. Over the course of that year and the following year she devoted hours to phone conversations with me. She helped me to see idols in my own heart and helped me wrestle through grief and depression and loneliness. She pointed me to the Psalms and kept me rooted in the Lord’s character – particularly His sovereignty and His goodness. She helped me honestly take my “why?” questions to Him and learn to trust His goodness rather than strive to feel in control because I had an answer to “make sense” of my circumstances.
She didn’t use her words to magnify my problems – she used her words to magnify God, and that’s where I found hope.
Sharon and I continue to keep in touch and even still discover aspects of our lives that are so similar. We have marveled together at God’s sweet providence in intertwining our lives.
Even still, as an embodied image bearer, I prayed and waited on God to cultivate an in-person relationship with a godly “mother” in Virginia.
After a couple of “small talk” conversations in the bathroom at PCC, I asked Meg if she’d be willing to get together. We spent a morning together with my young children, and I sensed the Spirit leading me to ask her if we could cultivate a more intentional discipleship relationship.
I had to muster the courage to send her that message. I felt like I was asking someone to date me.
Nearly four years later and God has been so kind… Meg and I are still dating ;). We talk and we pray and we encourage one another. She has helped train me in loving my husband and children as Titus 2 instructs. She asks me tough questions, she tells me the truth, and she points me to the Truth Himself. The more we get to know each other, the more ways I see God’s blessing in how He has uniquely knit us together. She has walked with me through the joys and the challenges of motherhood. My children adore her and her family. She’s hugged me through tears, prayed for me in deep pain and sorrow, counseled me in godly wisdom through conflict, laughed hysterically with me, and so much more.
Her words are life-giving because they are Christ-centered. I pray and hope my words are the same for her.
Don’t underestimate what God is doing with your words to build His kingdom in and through relationships. There are many more women whose names I could have included above. He’s always doing more than we ask or imagine, according to His wisdom, not ours, for all wisdom is sourced in God. The one who upholds the universe by the power of His word delights to fill us with joy as we use our words to glorify Him. Our relationships each look different in form and function, but they share the same purpose: to make much of Him.
Will you join me in the race to use words with intentionality - rooted in love - trusting His purposes? He is worthy.
This morning I listened to the Podcast, Let’s Talk, where The Gospel Coalition’s Jackie Hill Perry, Melissa Kruger and Jasmine Holmes discussed the topic, Overcoming Church Hurt. I don’t know about you, but I’ve received my fair share of hurt within the walls of the church from brothers and sisters in Christ. And while the Lord has used each and every one of my wounds to change, refine and prune me, I can’t say I would want to go through any of those situations again.
Several years ago, when I was still quite new to Women’s Ministry leadership, I received an email from a woman who had been at a WM event the evening before. She was livid. Someone had cut her off in a conversation she was having and hadn’t even apologized or, for that matter, realized the great offense she had caused her. For the writer of the email, this was the final straw. She was leaving the church and she, along with a close friend, would be starting their own church. She was convinced that her Sunday morning gathering would be a place where no one would get her feelings hurt.
Over the years I’ve learned some of what does and doesn’t work when dealing with hurts – both those that I’ve received and those I’ve given:
I’ve occasionally wondered how that Sunday gathering those wounded women started worked out for them. I have a feeling that they ended up disappointed simply because they had such high expectations of each other – as well as a sense of entitlement to their right to be justified and vindicated.
With those women as an example, here I add one more point – and perhaps it’s the most crucial and gospel-centered: we must be quick to justify others, but slow to justify ourselves. It’s not that we’re called to forgive others (though we are!), but that that we need to be forgiven constantly, not only by God, but by others as well.
In all these situations, may we be propelled by the Cross, which not only is the means of our forgiveness and reconciliation to God, but which also enables us to do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility to count others more significant than ourselves (Phil 2:3).