Habits Worth Having: Take Five
God’s Word is the only thing worth wielding. I’ve learned this through years of practice and years of not depending on the only thing that does get me through my day in a semblance of hope, joy, peace and strength.
Why does it take us (read: me) so long to figure this out?
Two things come to mind:
- I forget how needy I am.
- I forget how good God is.
I’m convinced that most problems life presents would be solved (if not, mitigated) by an accurate view of ourselves and an accurate view of God. We get both in Scripture.
The Quiet Time Wars
Not to be overly dramatic, but I think it’s a war. In fact I’ve taught and written on this topic a bit and I call the series: The Quiet Time Wars.
Why a war? Satan doesn’t want me walking close to Jesus, period. He spends a lot of his time figuring out ways to keep me away from time in the Word.
I need to be soldierly about this – I am a warrior woman (in Sketchers), after all. And so are you, sister (maybe in high heels or booties), if you follow Jesus.
And soldiers have a warlike stance and mindset. “You aren’t going to win, Satan, and that’s that.” Actually, I don’t usually address the enemy. Ignoring he exists isn’t the answer, either. It’s more like, “Hey, this takes effort and it’s worth every bit of effort. And I need God all along the way.”
How do I need Him? Let me count the ways. To be non-judgmental, to begin with.
Years ago, I came across my little sister, Lori, writing in her journal and I asked what she was doing. She replied, “I’m writing out Scripture for my quiet time. I’m doing it five minutes a day.”
In my big sisterly way, I may have hrrumpfed: “Really? Only five minutes?”
She responded with grace: “That way I know I will do it.”
Good point. Smart girl, my little sister.
It’s a war to meet with God on our own every day. Take baby steps. Five minutes is a great start. If I thought I had to read an hour a day and answer tons of questions, I would get discouraged and maybe stop.
Face to Face
I like variety so I change it up every six months or so. I have a list of favorite resources listed here. But a tried-and-true one is Face to Face, Vol. II by Kenneth Boa. In the introduction Boa states that each daily selection is meant to be read in five minutes. There you go.
I figure if I can’t give God five minutes anytime on any given day, I’m not taking Him and our relationship seriously.
Face to Face is Scripture re-written in the first person. I don’t use it as a study Bible although many blogs and talks have started in the margins. (I never read without a pen – you, too?) But every selection covers God’s character, God’s works, my character, and my relationship with others.
The No-Excuses Basket
I love the tip my sister-in-law passed along when my kids were little: get a basket with handles. Fill it with all the books, journals and pens you need to meet with God. Then if you get interrupted, you pick up your basket and move to another room. No excuses allowed except for an excuse to buy a new basket.
I do love baskets, as well as candles and pretty coffee mugs. All go in the basket. But the main thing is: what will I read today? If I have my favorite translations and devotionals all in one place, I am ready for any battle, and I’m grateful.
How can I remember how good God is? By building a robust habit to meet with Him.
We don’t worship the habit – that’s a rope on our necks instead of an anchor to our souls. God’s not interested in my checking off boxes in His name. I don’t worship the habit, but habits help me worship.
No matter what frame of mind I’m in—negative or positive, rushed or relaxed–if it’s time for coffee with Jesus, it’s still coffee time with Jesus, and I’m always better for it.
Building habits takes intention and practice.
Like practicing hospitality. It’s called practicing hospitality because we get better with practice.
The goal for me is not to be a great hostess. There are far better entertainers than I am. My goal instead is to be able to focus on my guests and concern myself with meeting their needs. And when I practice, I forget about my worries, my reputation, my inadequacies.
Same with our quiet times. The more we practice the habit, the better we get at seeking God and what He has for our day rather than, “How in the world can I get my To-Do List accomplished if I stop and meet with Jesus?! I will never finish!”
Practice enables our intention and our intention is to seek and follow Jesus.
What it Means to Put Jesus First
Speaking of Jesus, He said the perfect thing –I suppose He always did–in Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.”
Try it. I mean really try it. Put God first in all you do today and see what’s added.
I don’t seek Him first so that He brings me blessings. That’s not the point.
The point is surrendering my day, my heart’s desires, my frustrations, my cantankerous irritations with irritating people – whatever comes my way – giving these things wholeheartedly to my Father in Heaven who invites me to His table at first light, at the end of a long day, and every moment in the middle.
In Luke 10, Jesus told Martha that her sister had chosen that which was essential. Read it here in the Amplified:
But Martha was very busy and distracted with all of her serving responsibilities; and she approached Him and said, “Lord, is it of no concern to You that my sister has left me to do the serving alone? Tell her to help me and do her part.” 41 But the Lord replied to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:40-42, AMP)
I love it! He said that Mary had chosen that which was to her advantage. Wow! What is more to our advantage or benefit than this? To sit at Jesus’ feet. That’s it. And often that’s all that’s needed.
My Favorite To-Do List
My favorite To-Do List is this one:
- Relate well with God
- Everything else.
Ministry is spillage. We have something worth spilling out to another– whether it’s our little ones, our mother-in-law, or a work colleague–when we are filled up to all the fullness of God.
As Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:19 – another favorite and I love it in the New American Standard (See why it’s fun to have different translations in our baskets or on our phones?) – “ and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
I want to start and end my day with God and His Word, otherwise I don’t get filled up. And if I’m not filled up with Him, I can’t spill out for Him.
It’s to my advantage and to those He brings my way.
Get a basket, start a habit, take baby steps and grow up into all the goodness and grace of God. Take five. You won’t regret it.
Speaker, author, Sue Donaldson and her husband, Mark, live in San Luis Obispo, California.
Sue taught high school English, part of the time in Brazil with Wycliffe Bible Translators.
She and her husband, Mark, have raised 3 daughters who keep them at the bank and on their knees.
Sue loves connecting people to one another, to God, and to His Word, and has been speaking for the last 20 years or so with long pauses for babies, diapers and soccer pasta parties. She blogs at WelcomeHeart: Knowing and Showing the Heart of God and hosts a weekly podcast: Make it Count: Living a Legacy Life.
Sue’s books include:
- Come to My Table: God’s Hospitality and Yours
- Hospitality, 101: Lessons from the Ultimate Host, a 12-Week Bible Study
- Table Mentoring: A Simple Guide to Coming Alongside