"You don't have to have a 30-minute quite time every day to have an intimate relationship with God."
This has become one of my favorite quotes lately.
It's just filled with so much grace. Grace that I often feel I don't deserve, but am slowly learning to accept as a new mom.
When I first gave my life to Christ (like...for real) in 2010, I quickly became very structured in my quiet time. It wasn't because I was made to do so by my then spiritual leaders or anything like that; it's just the type of person I was. I'd just finished undergrad the previous month, and had become accustomed to spending long hours reading, taking notes and memorizing passages. So, I naturally approached learning Scripture the same way.
Also, I must admit, it became an obsession.
An obsession I'm quite proud of.
I wasn't studying Scripture because I was anxious to get it in my brain so I could spit verses at the drop of a dime like the fancy, Bible-teacher-ladies I watched on YouTube. No, I was hungry to know more about the God I'd chosen to serve. I wanted to know His heart, and to try and understand how I could be anything like Him. The whole concept of being made in His image seemed like a huge stretch to me. I'd heard people quote this fact on Sundays since I was a little girl, but I was finally beginning to understand just how much of a grandiose statement it was.
I was made in the image of God?
So...I'm like Him?
God? ...like THE God?
I soon went from newcomer Christian to youth leader to high school Bible study teacher at the church I was attending. It was all a little intimidating, but exciting. I am so grateful to have been under a leader who saw potential in his pupils and never really gave us the opportunity to say no when the Holy Spirit told him to give us more responsibilities in ministry. About nine months into my walk with Christ, I started graduate school at Liberty University and was able to repeatedly quench my unquenchable thirst for Bible study. It was literally part of the curriculum in every class, so studying, reflecting, and applying God's word in my everyday life was somewhat of a breeze.
When I was single, I could stop in the middle of the day at my favorite coffeehouse and dig into Scripture for as long as I wanted. Then, it seemed like overnight I had two children who are so close in age they may as well be twins, and they need me almost every second of the day.
Yes, the day-today structure of my life has drastically changed.
I started to feel like I was losing the level of intimacy I was used to with God. I couldn't hear His voice like I used to. I could see His beauty and grace in the face of my daughter and in cuddles with my son. However, I was still missing those long hours with Him and felt like they were the only way we could have a real relationship.
I was wrong.
Yes, there is a great satisfaction I feel after spending thirty+ minutes doing some Holy Yoga or reading a few of my favorite Psalms, but my relationship with God goes so far beyond that.
He is with me with every breath of the day.
This doesn't mean that I don't study anymore. I have simply had to become creative in the season of life. I have discovered some wonderful tips and study tools to help me stay engrossed in His word throughout the day even when my hour of quiet time in broken into pieces over a twelve-hour time span.
I want to take a moment to share a few with you, and I pray they bless you as they have blessed me.
Get up early. Think of whatever time you need to wake in order to get to work/class on time. Now, make it a point to get up at least 45 minutes earlier. Yes, this will be hard! It's still hard for me now. At one point, I actually had to have a friend of mine who worked as a producer for one our local new station's morning show call me at 5 a.m. because I am good for hitting my snooze but for another 15 minutes or so. It's a struggle, but it's worth it. I have so much to do in the morning. People need to be dressed, fed, and out the door and I orchestrate all of it. If I don't fight for some time in Scripture before dawn breaks, I might spend the rest of the day broken myself. No, studying your Bible in the morning is not a law, but there is just something about starting our day at the feet of Jesus, instead of squeezing Him in whenever we decide we're done with the really "urgent" stuff.
Find a great app. There are so many Bible apps out today, but I have only found two that I really love. Of course, the o'so popular YouVersion Bible app is a must on my phone. what I've been loving about it the most lately is that I can put a widget that displays a daily Bible verse right on the home screen of my phone. That makes it easy in the mornings to grab my phone, hit the alarm, and immediately flip to the verse. The only danger there is that I can sometimes read the verse super-quick and then get caught up in the business of the day. I have to remember I still need to take the time to slow down and meditate on the words carefully. I also enjoy the new app by She Reads Truth (also available on iOS). I have been rockin' with these amazing women since about April of 2012 when I followed along with their Women of the Bible study plan, and I even helped backed the app during their Kickstarter campaign this past Spring. They have really created a community for women to dig into Scripture together and grow in Christ. The app allows me to read the Scriptures associated with that day's lesson, the devotion, access the message board, take notes, make bookmarks, and share the reading via social media all from one place! Fab!
Get some accountability. Ladies, community is so important! I know there are some people who feel like we shouldn't need someone on us to make sure we study God's word. We should just pray that His Holy Spirit guides us, and ask Him to increase our desire when we are lacking. Totally true! But at the same time, God created us to be in community. He created us to know that we cannot do anything our own; nothing. We can't pray in our own strength. We shouldn't only study His word with only our own insight (because we are all biased and proud and flawed in some way), and we shouldn't think we don't need a little guidance and accountability here and there (or A LOT for a long time) when it comes to digging into Scripture. Find a class at a local church, or do one online. Ask your spouse or your sister or a friend to text you to make sure you read today. And don't just tell them you read, tell them what you read and how you are responding to it. Ask them questions about what you don't understand. They may have more insight, and if they don't the two of you could search for the answers together. It's a win-win!
Keep a journal. One thing about journaling is that it requires me to sit still, I can't really rush it. You don't have to love to write in order to start keeping a journal. You just need to have something to say to the Lord. A question to ask. A praise to give. Some anger or frustration to get off your chest (hey, we've all been there). Just look at the Book of Psalms. It's a beautiful mixture of joy, pain, victory, confusion, and faith. If you're really not into long sessions of writing, draw instead. I follow some wonderful people on IG who doodle in their journals and their Bible instead of writing out the typical prayer or Bible verse. Let a little journal become the heart song of your life as you create a beautiful keepsake to reflect on in the future.
So, on those days when I just can't seem to find 30 minutes, but I can find ten before the hustle and bustle of the day get started, these tools have helped me.
Do you already do any of these things? What tools have you found help you study God's word better and easier? I'd love for you to share in the comments below to maybe give us all some new ideas!