here is part two of my friend stephanie’s guest blog post. you can first part one here.
At the end of last year God quietly spoke to my heart again, as I felt He did the year before. He challenged me, since I was able (in His strength) to make a daily decision to run and practice the exertion of my will over my what I feel like doing for an entire year (one day at a time). He challenged me to commit 20 minutes a day to Him (roughly how long it takes to run 2 miles) for a year. So this is what I set out to do this year. I set a timer so it’s measurable. I write in my journal to record everything God teaches me. I get on my knees and on my face, I daily offer myself to the Lord, throwing off all opinions, excuses, expectations and plans about me, about Him, and about that time. He made it clear I was to practice being still and knowing He is God. I was to learn to stop and just BE STILL, to just BE me (without masks, without hiding), to BE exposed, to listen to His Voice, listen for His opinion, to let Him teach me the Word — to just BE in His presence and acknowledge Him as God. This felt up-side-down and backwards for days. This was different than my usual definition of a “quiet time” where I get all my devotionals out, put them in a pile and read through each one at a time to see, what “speaks” to me and then I do my Bible study or read a book or listen to a song etc. and then I would go on about my day after checking that off my list, feeling good about myself. This kind of “quiet time” was based on me being in control, sometimes it felt forced, I was attempting to experience God through other peoples experiences. Not that these things are bad, we are meant to encourage one another with our experiences with God. I just can’t sustain my soul on these things, I must personally BE in His presence have His first hand fresh manna, His daily bread, His living water, His Word revealed in the clarity of His light. I did not realize it but I was so thin and shallow spiritually because I was trying to fulfill my spirit with things & pleasures of the world, (possessions, people’s approval, good works, food, pleasure) and when I did meet with God it often tended to be processed, filtered down, experiences with God. It’s like the difference between reading a book about someone or being in personal, connected, raptured relationship with a Jesus, to feel His touch and hear His voice. Something was missing in my walk with God. I was missing Him, starving for Him, His presence, His voice, His revelation. Yes, I’ve had those times of “revelation” and experience with Him but that would be here and there. I am designed to BE in His life-changing presence every single day – my spirit is so desperately hungry for it. This 20-time was to be careful, sacred, open, in His agenda, under His control, His timing, His teaching. Some days, not much happens, but that is ok. He assures me the process is slow and steady like a endurance running, but other days He moves mountains. Either day is progress. Either day is being with the Creator of the Universe (what a privilege).
So back to my family, when I made this cautious commitment to meet with the Lord everyday, I had the fear of failure staring me in the face (again), but God proved to me that my commitment, my will, could overcome my feelings (I practiced that every day the year before). A miraculous thing happened for me. The commitment shut down the conversation I had with myself of whether or not I would do it or had time for it or would run from God or shut Him out. I was going to do it no matter what – just like the running. And even if I did fail, I live in a relationship of grace with God What did I have to loose? And it’s interesting cause the running commitment started with unity with my husband – to do something for him (complete his year of running) and now my husband has joined me with his own
commitment to meet with the Lord each day and it is transforming his life. My oldest son Josh who is 7 years old said, “I wanna do it too momma”. Each time I meet with God, he meets with God… he has met with God every day of the year so far. Before long, my other son Jayden (6) decided he was missing out and wanted also to take part in this time. So we all, every day, set the timer and our whole house stops and acknowledges God (for 20 minutes). Sometimes we meet God in our closets, sometimes we meet with God outside, and sometimes we just find a spot on the floor we can each be alone with God (together). It’s a humbling thing to see my home stop and honor God, to see my boys learning how to have a posture of praying, of being still and laying face down, of drawing pictures in their journal of what a verse means to them, seeing the prayers they write thanking God for helping them eat a vegetable or praise Him for making dogs or for healing their brother after he had been sick.
And although we meet for only 20 minutes, I have to confess there is a secret to this 20-time. It is a time that starts but it does not stop. God has used this time as an opening of the door to Him each day, acknowledging and seeking Him first and from there everything else is added. God has been using this time to speak to me, quiet my heart, fill me up so that His love spills over into the rest of my day and ultimately into others lives. It’s a natural overflow. And I have discovered that me getting myself in His presence and out of the way, I am actually seeing consistent traction in my walk with Him, because I’m no longer running from Him, hiding from Him, each day, not matter what my mood, no matter my failures, I come back to Him again. My main job is to show up, offer my body as a living sacrifice for this is my spiritual act of worship. Seek Him first, love Him most, and listen to His voice only. Then, I am able to love my family and others as an overflow of how much I love God first. This is a year commitment that I’m now convinced will be a lifetime commitment for me to not let a day go by (if it’s within my power) that I do not get on my knees and face and acknowledge Jesus as Lord.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33),
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37)
Thank you for a transparent and compelling story of your most recent life choice. I am challenged to do the same. Can I be a copy cat? To the glory of God and the increasing of intimacy with Him! Obedience in you is a beautiful thing. I will join you and your family in a committed 20 minute worship and pray my big and little boys will join in.
linda, i am going to be a copy cat, too!!! don’t have any boys to join, but will start with a commitment!!! 🙂
Linda, it would humble my heart to know you and your family would join in the commitment as you are led and you to Danielle! I can honestly say it has been the best daily decision i’ve ever made. i’ve always been the one in the way of my relationship with God, so if i can just get myself, on my knees, into His presence and BE STILL and KNOW He is God… that alone changes everything, puts everything in the proper perspective… and one day at a time. I had in the past tried to get my kids to do little devotionals and it was like pulling teeth and i had grown discouraged. I LOVE how God blessed my obedience to Him first and then as i seek Him first all else is added. thank you for your encouragement!
Stephanie, What a blessing and challenge your blog has been to me. I was unable to read the second part without my eyes filling with tears of joy. What a blessing to know you and call you my sister in Christ. God is performing a glorious work in you and in your sweet family. Thanking and praising God for you and the heart you have for our Savior and Lord.
Your life reminds me of Psalm 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.”
Thank your for sharing your journey! Truly stirred my soul. Sister, your desire to meet Him on a deeper level spur my hunger and yearning for the same. May The Lord bless you daily in your 20-time!
Love this post! The simplicity of being still is something I long for and need to practice more often. Thanks for sharing your heart and this incredible journey.
Stephanie and Danielle. The task is so simple. Be still and be with God. For two days since reading this, I have committed and have found it life changing in this short amount of time. This is exactly what I needed and God knew that. Thank you so much for sharing.