It is so easy to forget God as the Giver of our good things. Like a side dish I meant to serve, I put Him on the back burner with good feelings about reading His word later… talking to Him later. The feelings don’t always matriculate to action, and where is the God who gave me this busy life? Still there… waiting.
God is as present in our lives as we permit Him to be. As a woman who is happiest when she is busy, my times with God must be intentional or they will not happen. I loved this article by Courtney Joseph, the author of Women Living Well where she discusses how busy moms can make time for the Lord. I think her message is equally applicable to women who do not have children, because we tend to fill our time with many other commitments. Early in our marriage Josh traveled often for work and it was tempting to use the time we had together selfishly, at the expense of our mutual walk with the Lord. So in our dating and engaged season, and now our married life of six years, we have implemented some methods to keep us in the Word in the midst of busy times.
First Thing in the Morning
When we were dating, Josh and I would rise around 4:45 AM to go to the gym before work – especially in the weeks before our wedding! But in this season of small kids, with different jobs and just different life demands, we get up around 6 AM to do devotions separately and work out. It looks different every morning, depending on the age of our kids. We don’t do devotions together like did early in marriage – and we don’t seek to!
As part of our wedding countdown I designed a seven-week reading plan for the Gospel of Matthew. Early in marriage we were reading through the book of Mark. While eating breakfast, we read a chapter together and discussed it briefly. This was an easy, quick way to connect with each other over God’s Word – very manageable and encouraging to us both. In our new season, we read independently and discuss via text or over dinner that night, or during our bible study on weekends (we get a sitter for the girls).
Throughout the Day
A habit Josh and I both practice is listening to the radio on the way to work (for him) or podcasts (me, at home). Listening to the radio or podcasts of sermons (Charles Stanley is one of our favorites) give us fodder for discussion at dinner time as we talk about what we heard. But since even the best things can become a distraction, I also try to turn off podcasts when working to better process what I get out of my morning study.
We don’t have time to pray for very long most mornings. When I was working full time and we were first married, I would think of requests and write them in my prayer journal during stop lights (I record answers to prayer in red so I can track God’s faithfulness! It’s very rewarding!).
One way to encourage your spouse – something often promoted by Christian husbands and wives – is to send a pertinent verse during the day. Early on, I shared something that stood out to me or reminded me of Josh – I want to get back into that practice!
In the Evening
Growing up, the dinner table was something of a center for our family. We ate as a family usually five or six nights a week, sometimes all seven. In the same way, Josh and I have always enjoyed sitting down to dinner together. As we recap the day, one of my favorite parts is when he shares where he felt God revealed Himself: in something a coworker said, in how a problem was solved, or in a new opportunity that came up. It’s as if the morning comes full circle in the evening, reminding us that God is present from the beginning of our day through the end.
Saturday evenings we attend a bible study together and this provides more fodder for discussion. While this may be impossible for some young wives, I would highly encourage dating, engaged, or young married couples to attend either a couples’ study or individual studies (I am more a proponent of individual studies because the context is more intimate woman to woman, and one can be discipled by older married women; but if you can do a couple’s study too I recommend that! I do both.). Having this time once a week enables me to ‘refresh and be refreshed’ (Prov. 11:25) by women of all ages, encouraged in my walk with the Lord, and energized to better serve my husband and the other people in the periphery of my life. It also gives Josh time to catch up with his friends or spend some time at home doing his own study.
One habit we are trying to get back into is reading in bed. This is the one time we consistently are with each other, because we go to bed at the same time (this has been something of a principle for us in our marriage; it was recommended by an older couple and we have benefited greatly; of course, when Josh is on call or works late it doesn’t happen, but on normal days we practice it.). We’ve read marriage books, devotional books, and now a parenting book aloud to one another before bed. Then we try to pray – very briefly, even just a few seconds each!
When you really look at the list I’ve compiled here, you’ll see that none of these things take more than a few minutes each. But scattering them throughout the day proves to be a constant reminder of God. Our God. From peaceful mornings in the living room to harried lunchbreaks in the car to dim-lit devotions before bed, God is as present as we allow Him to be.
What ways have you discovered to help make God central to your life as a couple?