24 June 2013

I Don't Believe in Quiet Time

One of the most, if not the most, popular cliche's among Christians is the concept of "quiet time." Quiet time can have a length of anywhere between 5 minutes and an hour or even longer. It's the time when you put away cell phones and social media, maybe even music (though some play Christian music), grab your Bible and highlighter, then get to reading and praying. Sounds great, right? Yes, it does! There is absolutely nothing wrong with the concept of quiet time. It's the practical application that sometimes gets us in trouble.

Do you know people who never stop talking about things they "read this morning in my quiet time" or "felt laid on my heart during my quiet time"? Do you ever wonder if they only have it so they can say stuff like that?? I do! I have gone through periods of my life where I don't have a regular quiet time. Actually, that's probably most of my life. I guess it would be more accurate to say I've gone through short periods of life when I did have a regular quiet time. These periods usually happen after a camp, Disciple-Now, or some other youth trip. Or they happen on January the first. Of course, I always know that "This time, it'll be different. This time, I really have changed. This time, I won't stop. I'll keep having quiet time. Every day. At X time of day. That's it. Forever." The thing is, that simply is not practical. Things com up. My motivation wears off. Once a day is a lot! And attaching a specific time makes it even more. If something comes up at that time, I feel like it's too late for that day. If this happens several days in a row, I feel like the entire effort has been wasted and it's too late to go back.

Am I the only one who feels this way? The thing is, I wish I didn't feel this way. I wish I could get motivated, commit, and wake up 15 minutes early every morning to spend some sweet time with Jesus. I want to be touched and amazed, to have one of those great quiet-time experiences that other people talk about. Maybe that would make me a Good Christian.

Wait a second...a "Good Christian"? That is not a thing. And thank God it's not! The entire basis of our Faith would crumble if it was. Romans 3:23 tell us, "All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God." All fall short. No one is a "Good Christian."

The other thing is, my expectations are rarely met. In the periods of life where I have woken early for sweet time with Jesus, the time isn't sweet. It's forced.There's too much pressure. Too much expectation for this to blow me away and disappointment when it doesn't. Do you know when I do have sweet time with Jesus? When I'm in my car on my way to class, and I see the sun peering through the rainclouds that continue to pour down over my windshield; I turn off my music, and say a prayer of thanks. When I read a sad story that moves me to tears, and I turn to my Lord who has protected me from the things I'm reading about. When I'm in the shower, and I seize the precious moments of solitude to tell Jesus, as a friend, about my troubles a trials as well as the things I'm thankful for and the reasons I'm head-over-heels in love with Him.

Of course, all of these things lack a very important quiet time ingredient: the Bible. And yes, that is a problem. It would be ideal to read the Bible every day. But that's not just a box to check every morning and then stop worrying about! My Bible is what I turn to when I feel led. I don't read it every single day, and that's a problem I need to fix. However, I don't think quiet-time is the fix. I think the fix is listening. When I pray in the car, through my tears, and as I shower, I need to listen to what my Savior says back to me. Then, I need to find my Bible as soon as possible and look for related words of wisdom. Find confirmation of His love and promises. Get to know gpbetter the God I'm speaking to.

Another good fix is a Bible study. It doesn't replace solitary study, which I think is the main point of quiet time, but it does do a lot for spiritual growth. Plus, I find more accountability in that. People ask why I didn't show up to that, while no one will ever know if I skip my quiet time.

I absolutely love this post, in which my dear friend Becky writes about her dates with Jesus. Have you ever heard that comparison, about treating Jesus like a significant other? I hear it quite a lot, and I really like it. Some point out that if your boyfriend whom you loved wrote you a love letter, you'd read it over and over, take notes, and memorize portions of it. Thus, they say, we should do the same with our Bibles, our love letter from God. I agree! But if we're sticking with that, we should remember that neither a boyfriend nor The Lord would require that we spend a certain amount of time each day reading and studying His letter. Neither would He require a certain amount of minutes at a certain time of day. God is not the overly attached girlfriend anxiously waiting by the phone waiting for our call. He is ready anytime we want to talk, and yes, he desperately wants to hear from us, because He's in love with us! In fact, He loves us too much to guilt us into time with Him. It is our decision. It will be infinitely healthier for us to spend as much time with Him as possible, because His love sustains us. But if we don't have quiet time every morning, He won't strike us with a lightning bolt or open up the earth to swallow us. He will simply wait patiently for us to coming running back into His open arms.

The thing is, there's nothing wrong with quiet time. The title isn't exactly true. If you don't know that I often exaggerate, you don't know me at all. Of course I believe in quiet time. I just don't believe in the strict necessity of that particular formula for quiet time. I don't believe in the label called "quiet time." I don't believe in the pang of guilt I used to feel when others mentioned the amazing revelations of their quiet time and I wondered why mine wasn't as fulfilling. If the formula works for you, great! If you like calling it "quiet time," no problem. But you should never feel that pang of guilt for not following that formula with that label. I don't feel that anymore because I have found fulfillment in my beautifully sporadic dates with Jesus. Spend time with The Lord because you want to, not because you think you have to.

PS, I don't believe in Carpe Diem either. When she talks about Kairos-- that's what I'm talking about! Kairos is my quiet time.