Saturday, March 13, 2010

Strength for the Battle: Devotions

As a child (and, okay, as an adult) I loved the Nintendo 64 game Zelda.  As Link, the intrepid adventurer, pursued his quest to find Zelda, his lifeblood would be chinked away bit by bit by the monsters and pests and obstacles he encountered on the way.  But every now and then he could enter a cave and find a certain fairy who would fill him up again, pouring powerful lifeblood into the little hearts at the bottom of the screen that represented his available life.  He would leave the cave filled up, healthy and ready to resume the battle.

As a Christian, when I'm feeling drained from the struggle, I know what I need: not a fairy with a magic wand, but time spent sitting at Jesus' feet - what we Christians call devotions.

I've been a Christian since I was 13 years old.  And I've known since at least age 20 that you don't progress much in the Christian walk without a regular devotional time - a daily time reading God's Word and praying.  So how is it that, at the age of 48, I STILL struggle with having a faithful daily devotional time?  What am I waiting for...maturity?

My sister-in-law posted a great reminder on her Facebook page yesterday, a quote from Watchman Nee: "We may delay the growth of the life of God's Son in us, but we have no way of accelerating it. Because of this, it is of utmost importance that we accept God's ordering of circumstances in our lives, for it is by these circumstances that we receive the disciplines we need from the Holy Spirit to strengthen us as we grow."

Over the years I have heard so many great, yet conflicting, pieces of advice about devotions: They should be in the morning, to equip you for the day - but if you can't fit them into the morning, anytime will do.  All you need is a few minutes - no, you need at least 30 minutes.  A great supplemental or devotional book will help - vs. no, you only need the Bible.  You can do them anywhere - but you should pick a special spot and do them there every day.  My evil twin (my sin nature) says my devotions aren't consistent because of all this conflicting advice, but the Holy Spirit calls this excuse total hogwash.

I've found some great tools and some great words of wisdom from three different sources.  I love the refreshing take on Bible study found in Lysa TerKeust's book Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.  Lysa is a member of the Proverbs 31 Team.  I love her blog, and highly recommend her article "Don't Read Your Bible," as well as just about everything else she's ever written.  She's a woman who has suffered much in her life and loves the Lord tenderly.

Jen Hatmaker is another Christian author who refreshes me.  Her Bible study books are among the most humorous I've ever read, and she makes no pretensions about having a polished life, which makes me feel right at home.  Her excellent book A Modern Girl's Guide to Bible Study is a great source of suggestions for getting the most out of your personal devotional time.

I believe the Lord will bless every minute we spend sitting at His feet, whether it's in the morning, noon or night, whether it's in a quiet corner at home or a quiet corner at McDonald's, whether we use only His Word or add some special books or helps.  He will take every opportunity we give Him to pour His Word and His wisdom into our noisy, hectic lives.  And we will be all the better for it.

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