“Mommy, I’m going to sit and read my Bible in peace. I’m going to do my devotions and talk to Jesus.”
So she sat down in front of the door (she was waiting for a friend to come over) and “read” her Bible. This post is not a “look at me and how well I am doing as a mom” post. If we want to grab coffee sometime, I could tell you all the mistakes and things I’m not doing well. Yet, my hope is that you can learn something that took me almost 5 years to learn as a mom.
Note: for those of you that do not know me, this is from the perspective of a stay-at-home mom with two children. You may have a different perspective based on your home, work, children, spouse situation. But one thing is true that we all have in common as moms: we are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37). And this common goal is what this post is focusing on.
As a mom, I have struggled in the past with finding time to spend with Jesus, studying His Word and praying. The Christianese word is “devotions,” as you read my daughter calling it. When my daughter was born, my life was consumed with her. Many first time moms experience this: life revolves around your child, you are afraid of doing anything wrong, and are convinced that one error is going to ruin your child forever! I confess that my daughter became my idol pretty quickly. I can confidently say that because she summed up this definition by Tim Keller: “An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought.”
Then the second born came along. After how I was idolizing my first born, God needed to teach me that my children are gifts from Him and ultimately belong to Him. Damon was born with duodenal atresia and had surgery less than 72 hours after birth. Leading up to his birth and even after, fears of the worst case scenarios flooded our minds. Through this experience the Spirit taught us that God is in control of every breath our child takes. Yet, still in our unbelief we tend to hold on even tighter when we cannot control our children’s lives, resulting in idolatry.
Every additional child is a transition yet gives you a different perspective. I roll my eyes at myself when I look back and think about all the things I stressed over with Kherington. Or how I really did believe I didn’t have time to do anything! I totally had time to take a 10 minute shower! I try to remember what DID I do when she slept so much? Somehow, when more children come along we still make it work, even if the meals aren’t from scratch and your toddler is wearing the same pajamas for a couple days. Mmhmm…sorry Damon!
Shortly after having Damon, I read blogs on how to schedule your mornings so that your days can run smoothly based on priorities and goals for the day. Spending time with the Lord (aka devotions), always was on that morning to-do list. As I made my morning time table, my goal was to wake up an hour before the kids to read my Bible and pray. I am a morning person so I thought it was very doable. However, my hubby is a night owl. When we got married, I was convinced I would change him to be a morning person. Ha! I gave up after…oh…6 years of marriage that it ain’t ever happening. In fact, he turned me more into a night owl!!! So be careful what you say you want to change about your husband; you may be the one that changes!
Some days I was successful at getting up early while others I was not, especially if I stayed up too late the night before to spend time with Brett. However, on the days that I did not get up in time and I woke up to Kherington’s face staring at me with her wide eyes, I never took time later in the day to spend with Jesus. I lived each day with the perspective that if I didn’t wake up early, I wasn’t going to have time to do it the rest of the day. In essence, I was telling Jesus, “You only have from 7-8 am every day. If I miss it, sorry, I’ll try again tomorrow. You really weren’t as important as _________. ” Yikes. Writing that out makes me cringe since it was my heart attitude, and oh, how it pained Jesus! I viewed my devotional time as an item on my morning to-do list that needed to be checked off so I can go about my day, rather than desperately pursuing my Savior and passionately worshiping Him.
Also, I was deceived by Satan in believing that I didn’t have time the rest of the day. After all, I have to get to my never-ending to-do list. Then I’m too tired at night to focus and just want to sit and relax with Brett. I believed the lies we all say to ourselves: “I just don’t have time.” Or “Ok. I do have a little time but not 15, 30, 60 consecutive minutes to read and pray!” Or “I’ll get to it later, I promise!” Or “I will make time when my children finally _________.” And this is right where Satan wants us, because if we fill our days with stuff that we think is beneficial but….let’s be honest…much doesn’t count for eternity…then we are exhausting ourselves silly trying to gain the whole Pinterest-perfect-how-many-likes-can-I-get-on-Facebook world and the end result could be losing our souls, and worse, our children’s souls (Matthew 16:26).
I finally stopped the lies and believed truth: I do have time. I have 24 hours. If God thought we needed more time, He would have given it to us. It’s all a matter of priority. We make time for the things we love or want to do. Saying, “I don’t have time for you, Jesus” is not loving Him with all my heart, soul, and mind. Instead, I’m saying, “I don’t love you right now, I love someone or something else more.” And as moms it is usually our kids, and we easily justify that we are obeying God by sacrificing and loving them, when in fact it’s disobedience since the first and greatest commandment is to love Him FIRST then your neighbor. Our children fit into this “neighbor” category, in which the SECOND greatest commandment Jesus gives is to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39).
The past year has been a difficult time for Brett and me as we have been waiting on God’s timing for the next steps in our lives. God has been humbling us like never before. I have been desperate for Jesus and His Word, hungering and thirsting after Him. In the trial, I have finally made Jesus a priority in my life and stopped forcing myself at my “perfect” time to do my devotions, as long as I get filled by Him at some point that day. During this season of my life, some days I get up early before the kids but most days I don’t. Brett or I will make coffee while getting the kids breakfast. Once the kids are done, they find or I give them something to do. They know that Mommy will be in her room with her coffee reading her Bible and talking to Jesus.
I thought that I had to do my devotions only when the kids were sleeping so I wouldn’t be distracted. Another stupid lie. My kids are 5 and 2 years old and in the last year my time with Jesus has been deeper, closer, and more intimate than ever before, and it was when I have been seeking Jesus when they were awake! Do I have to break up fights? Of course. Do they run in and out of my room? Definitely. But they have learned that this is Mommy and Jesus time. Kherington doesn’t ask me to come help her anymore. Instead, she says, “Mommy, when you are done reading your Bible, can you….” “Yes honey. I am almost done talking to Jesus.” Yet some days my time is cut short and doesn’t go as planned. I give myself grace, and remember that Jesus is always beside me throughout the day to talk to Him no matter what I’m doing.
The best part….No. More. Guilt. More lies from Satan: “You should be spending time with them! You are neglecting them right now! You need to be doing x, y, z!” No, Satan. When my kids are watching me spend time reading God’s Word and praying, it’s actually one of the MOST loving things I can do for them. Brett recalls his dad studying the Bible consistently when he was growing up. Brett became curious as to what and why his dad was so passionate about God’s Word, causing him to spend time reading it to find out for himself. Most importantly, when I put my to-do list down and yes, even say no to my child at that moment to spend time at Jesus’ feet, it’s the MOST loving thing I can do for Him.
Francis Chan writes in his amazing book, You and Me Forever, “Lisa and I want to raise children who love Jesus far more than they love us. We want them to trust Him more than us, to enjoy Him more than us, to find more security in Him than in us. And we are convinced that the best way to teach this is to demonstrate it. We have to make it clear to our children that we love God more than we love them.”
Wow! Convicting right!? This is my goal too and that my children will know that I love Jesus. Then when I hear Kherington tell me that she needs to go read her Bible and talk to Jesus…or on some days crawls up in my bed with her Bible too, I fight tears as I praise and give glory to God.
Moms, you do have time for Jesus. It is only a matter of how desperate you are for a deeper relationship with God. Does your daily life show that you are loving your children (or yourself) more than Him? Stop trying to fit Him in your perfect schedule like I was trying and failing. Instead, put Him anywhere in your day, even if it seems inconvenient and the kids are running in and out of your room. I dare you to try it, and I’m convinced that He will put everything else in its proper place as your perspective changes how you view your time spent on this earth. And someday you may find your child, whether 5 or 15, reading her Bible and praying because you demonstrated to her that Jesus is most important.