Seven years ago, I was sitting down with a group of men who were interviewing me to come on staff with their church as a part-time worship leader. I was a 20-year-old college student at the time. Due to the demands of being a music major, I turned down the offer, but one moment from that interview has stayed with me these past 7 years. A moment that has slowly evoled in my mind. During the interview, the pastor looked at me and said, "One thing we expect from you is that you be spending time with God." "Perfect!", I thought. "I'm a pro at that. I spend time with God every single day!" The pastor continued, "This can look several different ways, Rick. It can be anything from reading the Bible, spending time in prayer, or even listening to a few Christian songs that mean something to you." "WHAT! How dare he take personal devotions so lightly! There is one way and one way only to spend time with God! That's Bible and notebook open, mister! You can't spend time with God by just praying or listening to music! You gotta have the WORD!!!"
Fast-forward a few years. I'm tired of the same ol' routine of getting out my notebook and Bible. It's beginning to feel like homework. I'm struggling to believe that God isn't just a little frustrated with me because I missed a day or two. I want to revive my quiet time but am afraid to change my system. Was that pastor on to something?
As a church staff member, I spend 5 days a week in an environment where the Bible is constantly talked about. Every bit of work I do is centered around it. It's no wonder that after 4 1/2 years of being staffed in a church that my personal devotions begin to feel like an extension of my office hours. It's no wonder that my mind is looking to escape theology for a day or two. I think about it alot. I've found myself pondering that pastor's words more and more and more over the past few years, and I think I'm beginning to understand why he listed more than one option for spending time with God - you gotta keep it fresh.
I've always been a stickler about things. I find a system that works, and I stick with it. Yet, as I've stayed with the same system of quiet time over the years, I've found more and more that I wanted to change my approach, but was too afraid to do so. Why? Because when I was first shown how to have a quiet time, it was a 1-2-3 process, and it worked for me. Like I said, I'm a stickler, and you show me a system that works, and I'll stay with it. Yet over time, I grew bored with that method, but I stuck with it because "that's the way you're supposed to have your quiet time." But by God's grace, I'm beginning to see the benefit of switching things up a little. On those days where reading the Bible feels like pulling teeth, I can make a 5-song playlist on my iPod, close my eyes and listen. I'm much better off doing that then hurrying through a Bible passage and being frustrated the rest of the day. Oft times, worship/Christian songs help me desire God's Word again. Even fellowship with other believers can help me desire the Word. Jesus simply said, "Abide in me." While I still beleive that God's Word is the best way to abide in Jesus, I think He's also given us prayer, music and fellowship to help aid in that process.
Currently, I'm reading through 1 Samuel - no notebook or pencil. I love it.