In my early twenties, I had roughly the same morning routine: I rose between 5 and 5:30 AM, went to the gym, showered, dressed, put on my makeup, ate breakfast, made coffee, and with the remaining 15-30 minutes before work I’d do my devotions at the kitchen table. When I was too pressed for time, I’d pray in the car and read my Bible on my lunch break. Either way, I tried to devote at least thirty consecutive minutes to reading and prayer. I didn’t do it perfectly, but it worked for the most part.
But times changed. My ideal schedule became simply impossible. I was traveling three out of the four weeks for work. With flight times, hotel check in and work duties, I wasn’t getting up at a regular time and my schedule had to be changed. A few years later I found myself married with a newborn – a whole new stage of life requiring a huge adjustment to my schedule. Making time for God became a lot more work than it was when I was single and newly married!
Scheduling has been a huge asset to me in my career and personal life, but sometimes I find myself scheduling for the sake of scheduling. The purpose of having a schedule isn’t just to be organized: it is meant to help us prioritize the things that really matter! Pregnancy taught me much about flexibility and being willing to alter my schedule as my body and my family needed. Having a newborn took this to a whole new level. Now, as a mom to three, business owner and leader, I see it even more clearly.
In each of these transitional stages – where I had to change my schedule and learn to adjust – I found myself feeling somewhat guilty if I couldn’t spend my consecutive thirty minutes with the Lord. During my travel season I would sneak in a reading in the morning, pray at noon and try to remember to journal a little at night. During late pregnancy I was falling asleep so early at night and waking later in the morning, so my devotional time was rushed and unfocused. I found myself asking, “If I don’t make time for God… will He make time for me?”
Then I heard a message in church that impacted my new-mama heart. The speaker said, “I often thought to be close to God I had to spend hours in prayer with Him. When my little girl would knock on the door I saw her as an interruption to my time with God – until I realized God wanted to be invited into my daily life, every hour, every day.”
And I realized that in penciling God into my schedule, I had scheduled Him out of my life.
If God didn’t fit into the 7 AM slot, I was unlikely to get around to Him later in the day. I might make a halfhearted effort at noon, or before bed, but it was unintentional and lacked focus. I felt that if I couldn’t give it my all – highlighters and journaling and Greek concordances and prayer – what was the point? If I couldn’t give Him all my effort, I’d wait till I had time to do so.
But in some seasons, that kind of time just doesn’t exist. And for many of you – whether single, married, or mothering littles – your life looks the same.
Maybe you’ve been trying to fit God into a specific slot in your schedule. And maybe you’re frustrated at your lack of success. It’s just not working.
It was like a lightning bolt, that sermon. I realized I was viewing my crying infant like an interruption to my relationship God – when she is an integral part of my relationship with God. Our kids are little disciples. They are a blessing He gave us. They are a means of our sanctification and spiritual growth, teaching us more about God’s parental heart with every day. They are not an interruption; they are God calling me to Himself.
This doesn’t mean we give up on pursuing that alone time with God; we just adjust what it looks like. In that new mama season, this meant continuing to use my basket, conveniently located by my nursing chair. I also put a devotional book in with my granola bars and lanolin by the glider in the nursery, along with two index card flipbooks of Bible verses. For Adeline’s first morning feeding, when it was light enough to see, I would sneak in a devotional or a few verses. When I lay her back down at 7 AM I do an accelerated version of my former schedule, showering, doing makeup, and eating breakfast while I did 15 minutes of study time alone at the kitchen table.
But even if the baby did wake up in the middle of the routine, we can’t let that stop us – we can’t let that irritate us. We have to see the big picture: that time with God is not about checking something off the list and “getting holy” for the day. We grow closer to God in the moment we reject irritation and choose love for those “in our way”.
Our relationship with God will look different in each stage of life – and that’s something I don’t think a lot of us grasp. We think it has to look the same, or be strictly consistent, in order for the relationship to thrive. But let’s think about the other relationships in our lives: is my marriage going to suffer because one morning my husband leaves at 4 AM and another he leaves at 8? Can I not still communicate with him, send him a text, and talk to him that evening, despite that schedule change? Certainly! And that’s a human relationship. With God, we have constant access to His constant presence. We have the privilege of inviting Him into our every moment if we take the time to do so.
Perhaps your job recently changed and you’re working a whole new shift. Your schedule will be different, and you’ll have a choice: to let your schedule dictate the depth of your relationship with Christ, or to let Christ dictate your schedule. You might feel guilty that it doesn’t look the same, or you might look at other Christians and envy the time they have to spend with the Lord – but your life is not their life!
It goes against my nature to not schedule something. But I’ve found that God can’t be scheduled in every season. I have learned to arrange my life to be reminded of Him throughout the day: fifteen minutes at the kitchen table, ten minutes while nursing, five minutes on a walk, fifteen minutes at midnight. God isn’t looking for a consecutive minutes spent on Him. He’s looking for hearts that seek Him wholly.
Don’t let your schedule push God out of your life. Invite Him into the duties He has given you, the job He has provided, and the family He has blessed you with. He knows what’s on your plate! He knows all we have to do, and He wants to be part of it. Relationship with God isn’t separate from the day to day: it IS the day to day. Sometimes it’s so simple we forget that it’s true.
Read more about Bible study methods in this post, and learn more about teaching the Bible to yourself here.