“If you do not read this book regularly…you don’t love God.” -Hollie Miller
Whoa. That got me a bit fired up Sunday morning.
It’s funny though, on top of being quite certain that I totally disagreed with this statement, I was fairly sure the emotion I was experiencing was pure defensiveness. I thought, “Um…excuse me? Yes I do.” I couldn’t really put my finger on which chord it struck in me, but I knew I didn’t like how I felt when hearing it. I couldn’t come to any kind of conclusion on why I was feeling this mixed bag of emotions either and was unable to make heads or tails of it. Was I right to feel the need to defend my position? Or was I wrong in that I felt defensive even to begin with? I didn’t know, so I set out to find a way to feel BETTER. So, can I tell you about it? I’ll apologize in advance for my innocuous and semi-ridiculous overuse of the triple dot…yep…that’s the one…but I write how I talk. So try to stay with me on this.
So what was my position you ask? Well, I am a Christian right? So, everyone knows that if you are a Christian then you read the Bible. This is certainly true for many, but I believe that there are many more like ME then anyone would care to admit. In my case…I have struggled in this department. It is a task that I find painfully difficult to commit to and for whatever reason have yet to find a burning desire to “get in the Word” regularly. I’ve had my bursts of mediocre at best attempts…but really never felt like I was being moved and stretched by it. Too honest? Do you judge me or identify with me? Or a third option might be perhaps that you understand because you too have been here before…stuck in a rut. I am not one that typically chooses to hide my inequities but rather shout them from the rooftops. Those of you who know me well can attest to this fun and yet strange fact. I am an open book, and I have something to say about most anything. Ha! I simply would rather just go ahead and put them out there for all to see so that I can stay grounded in truth and learn from it! It certainly makes life more interesting and the learning curve a little less painful. So back to my original question that you hypothetically posed at the beginning of this paragraph. What is my position? Sunday morning I was convinced that although I don’t make time to regularly spend time reading the Word of God, I was still in the “okay zone” with my walk with Christ. Quite convinced that because I believe in Jesus Christ, go to church on Sundays, attend bible fellowship, sing in the choir, volunteer with non-profit organizations, pray with my children, talk about my faith with strangers , continually seek the Lord in prayer and read my Bible sometimes…that I was good with God. I think to myself…”He knows how busy I am…he can see me struggle to juggle every day. Job, kids, house, soccer, dinner, laundry, sibling rivalry and everything else that causes me to sprout grey hairs and fine lines and wrinkles! He knows how tired I am each day and how impossible it is for me to even find time to pluck my eyebrows much less sit down and READ! IM DOING THE BEST THAT I CAN!”
But am I?
After church I spoke to a handful of friends that are without question, good. Good friends, good parents, good listeners, good people. Not perfect people, but Christian people that can help me gain perspective on my faith when I am lost in the mix. One of them posed a scenario that for whatever reason hit home with me. Respectively I applauded my friend in this genius analogy because it was simple enough in its nature that it broke through my neuroses and pulled me out of the complexity and back to the reality of the situation. Here it is paraphrased and a bit elaborated for the sake of making my point.
Cammy, imagine its Mother’s Day. How would you feel if your boys went downstairs in the morning and slapped a couple of cold pop tarts down on a plate and a cup of instant coffee and brought it to you. And perhaps a piece of paper with some pencil scribbled on it that clearly they just quick threw together that very morning because they didn’t take the time to make you one in advance. Would this make you feel loved? Hmm…not really. Okay and now imagine that they got up and made you runny eggs, burnt toast, cold coffee and some really yummy strawberries (since it’s the only edible thing on the plate) along with a sweet card with every color of the rainbow with their little scribbles and pictures of “mommy” and “us”. Would this make you feel loved? Absolutely.
So back to my question…to myself. Am I doing the best that I can? Tough pill to swallow but the truth is…no. I’m not. I’m doing better than a lot of folks out there indeed…but when did I decide that it was acceptable to measure my obedience against the efforts of those around me? That’s so arbitrary! What about measuring it against what GOD is asking of me…after all there is this whole BOOK that spells it out for me. Perhaps if I read it more often I will gain better clarity on all the things I need a resolution on.
I caught myself talking to my five year old this morning about obedience interestingly enough. Didn’t even really recognize the irony until the end of our little “talk”. But I found myself saying this, “Tucker why do you not listen to Mommy? I ask you to stop making your brother cry and you don’t obey me and it makes mommy really upset! You say that you love me all the time and you tell mommy sweet things but then you turn around and disobey me and that is not okay. If you love mommy, you will obey me. If I ask you to do something, then I expect you to do it BECAUSE you love me. That is the best way to show mommy your love…it is to be obedient. Okay?”
Hmm. Interesting little speech I gave. I thought it was really well played out and well said…but I truly believe that it was meant for my ears only. This is what my Father says to me. Here is the part of this whole unraveling process that literally cracked me up. All this time I have been praying for the desire to be in the Word. I have literally desired the desire. Does that make sense? I asked him, “Lord please put conviction on me so heavily that I can no longer have excuses to not read your Word. Please put the burning desire in me to open my Bible daily and spend time with you as this is an area that I struggle with deeply.” For quite some time now I have asked for this prayer to be answered. So here is something sort of funny. The very first thing I did when I got home from church was open my Bible. I wasn’t really even certain of what I was looking for, but isn’t it fascinating that the very thing that got me all lit up was the same thing that got me back in the Word? Even if it was just for a few minutes, it forced me to open my Bible. Prayer answered! I had a burning desire to go home after church and open my Bible and READ IT. Not for the reasons that I had anticipated when I prayed for this…but who cares really! I had the desire to READ! So amen right? Well…I’m afraid it’s not that simple.
Here is why. I need to CHOOSE to read every day. I have to make that time BECAUSE I love the Lord. I should WANT to make that time not because I want to go to Heaven someday…but because he died on the cross for me…he saved me…and I LOVE him. (Another fabulous point made by a dear friend of mine.) I don’t want to spend my life serving the Lord pop tarts and instant coffee. I want to take time to show him that I love him by really making my best effort each day. It may result in some runny eggs and some nasty coffee but eventually I will get to a point where I not only make a “mean” eggs benedict and perfectly crispy bacon…but I start to ENJOY the process of making it for Him. I want to show my Lord and Savior I love him by being obedient to Him. This would include spending time with Him in the Word…daily.
Do I love the Lord? Yes. Do I love Him enough? Nope! Never will really…but I can TRY MY BEST!
If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. And quite frankly, it wouldn’t mean as much to the Lord if it wasn’t a sacrifice.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22: 37-38.