I've been walking with Jesus in some way or another, which admittedly sometimes involved running away from Him or dragging my feet as I walked, or kicking and screaming along the way, for 17-ish years. When I began the journey at 13, that was probably the only year of my life until I was 29-ish (by the way, I operate on the "ish" system often) that I semi-regularly spent time with Him. Some youth leader at some youth rally probably said something that inspired me to make a mental list of things I was "supposed" to do as a Christian. None of those things were bad, but they didn't stick. I was motivated to read my Bible every day so I could check it off of a list, because doing the things on that list seemed to be the opposite of spending eternity in a fiery pit. I was motivated by a "supposed to", not by love (love for my Savior, and believing and understanding His love for me.)
Through high school, college, and post college, my time with Jesus was hit and miss at best. When the woes of the world brought me to a realization that things don't always work or happen like they are supposed to, I didn't see the value in getting up early or making extra time in my day to spend time with Jesus. I still walked with Jesus; He still somewhat influenced my decisions, but I wasn't captivated by Him because I didn't spend time with Him. I was really good at believing I was capable of doing life in my own strength, with my own knowledge. When my dad died on November 18th, 2012, there was no strength or knowledge that I had to prepare me for that grief. In desperation, I told Jesus I'd actually try spending time with Him for two weeks, fully believing that even He couldn't bring peace or healing to my grief. I gave a feeble attempt at an inch, and He pursued me back miles and miles.
I actually started to enjoy giving Him a part of my day. I loved it so much I wanted to know how to make it even better, even more life-giving to me. For about a year and three months now, I've given Jesus part of my day, more days than not, which in all honesty was something I actually never did in my prior years of being a Christian. It has incredibly transformed my life. The intimacy I have with my Savior now, is not something I ever want to be without –– the intimacy and transformation is something that not only I felt, but that other people could see. A best friend recently asked for accountability in the area of Jesus time and for a plan to jump back in it. I sent her a REALLY long email, and she responded with, "You should make this a blog post." I decided that was indeed a great idea. DONE! And so, you've been warned: The following plan/explanation to transforming your time with Jesus is a little lengthy, but so so worth it. And I've divided it into two posts so that you can have time to think about it and really let it soak in.
First: Plan it. Pick a time. Pick a place. Schedule it. And about timing, for many years, most of my life, I used not being a morning person as an excuse for not giving Jesus the first part of my day. I wholeheartedly believe there is value in giving Him the first. The later in the day it is the more chance Satan has to talk you out of it, the more chance he has to fill your day with things and make you think you don't have time, the more chance you'll get tired and find more value in a nap than in spending time with Him. Also, the whole world isn't awake yet. On the days I miss mornings and try for afternoons, it can and has been good, but it's so much more distracting. People are awake and texting me, liking my instagrams, posting on Facebook, etc. If you really want to make this a lifelong regular practice that can easily fit into your life regardless of what's on your plate, I recommend mornings. The example of giving God our mornings is all through scripture, Old and New Testament. And also, Jesus did it. Can't argue with that point. :) If you don't have a specific schedule, "morning" can be a flexible term. You can sleep in until 9:00, take a shower, eat something (or pack a lunch) and still be giving him the first part of your day. I really believe we're called to give Him our first fruits, tithe and time. Neither are easy, but He blesses it times a million. So far no one who has given mornings a chance can argue with me on this point. :)
Then: If your plan falls through, don't beat yourself up or throw in the towel. I am the QUEEN of all or nothing. My entire spiritual journey until last year was all or nothing, and therefore mostly nothing. If I couldn't spend two hours reading my Bible and being hyper spiritual, if I skipped a day, if there was any inconsistency at all, NOTHING. It can't be like that. We don't have to push ourselves into pits of self-condemnation. If we miss a day, two, a month, or 5 years, He's just as ready to take us back. So if you accidentally skip a morning, try for the afternoon; if it doesn't pan out ... tomorrow is a new day with new mercies!
In my next post, we'll talk more about specific ways to connect with God and develop an action plan!
Let's make our own rules,
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