When the devil elevates you to a certain place, he causes you to fasten your idea of what holiness is far beyond what flesh and blood could ever bear or achieve. Your life becomes a spiritual acrobatic performance high atop a steeple. You cling to it, trying to maintain your balance and daring not to move. But when God elevates you by His grace into heavenly places, you find a vast plateau where you can move about with ease. - Oswald Chambers
I started this little post mini-series yesterday. The stuff that I am sharing here has absolutely been changing my life lately, so I hope you'll read yesterday's post about how I I treat God like the friend I never talk to. I hope you'll tune in for tomorrow's post as well. For today, I'll be sharing how...
2. I use other people's suggestions as the rule
Remember that time that Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath? What if we related that to "quiet times"? It's actually true. Quiet time was made for man, not man for quiet time. The words "quiet time" or "daily devotion" or whatever you like to call it are not found in Scripture. I could hardly even say the concept is found in Scripture. Time with God? Yes. A thirty minute block of time each morning where you read a chapter of Scripture, meditate on it, write in a prayer journal, pray the ACTS prayer, and sing one worship song? No. That's just plain not in the Bible. I'm not saying it's not a good idea, but that schedule, that way of doing things is for your benefit. It's to help you, or to keep you focused or it's just because you like it.
The problem is that since Junior High I've had pastors, youth pastors, mentors, teachers, and friends telling me about quiet times. Telling me about Bible study methods, prayer methods, ways to relate to God, how much time I should spend doing this, and that quiet times are always best in the morning with a freshly brewed cup of coffee by my side. Things are more holy in the morning. Plus, God is an early bird so He's extra attentive then.
For the most part, I don't think anyone was trying to give me rules. I think they were sharing what they liked, what worked for them, how they felt close to God. The problem was, I took those suggestions and methods and made them into rules. I pasted them all into this giant rule book until spending time with God became a crippling activity, a balancing act of doing everything right.
I spent morning after sleepy morning fighting to stay awake and feeling unspiritual because I didn't "get anything" out of my quiet time. The "freshly brewed cup of coffee by my side" didn't even help. I've tried an alphabet soup's worth of prayer acrostics. I've tried all the Bible study methods. I've had daily schedules and weekly schedules, and within each schedule I had more schedules.
And I've been told you never pray before you read your Bible, because you should hear what God has to say before you talk. Because God is a King, so you give Him the reverence you would a King. But God is a Father, so talk to Him like you would your father. And Jesus is our Priest, relate to Him like a priest. He's our Friend, so have the honesty and openness you would with a friend.
All the while I think God is laughing at all this and saying "Yeah, but I'm GOD. Relate to me like I'm GOD." He's all those things wrapped into one which is, frankly, impossible to understand for me.
I don't know how to relate to, connect with, talk to an actual God, but I sure know that it completely blows our formulas and methods and little rules out of the water.
The most freeing thing in the world for me was to realize was that all these "rules," while not inherently bad, are man made. I'm starting to feel the weight of my rule book. That "yoke that is easy and the burden that is light" is starting to look really appealing to me.