My alarm clock goes off every morning at 6 am. I am in an immediate conversation with my feelings, a tug-of-war for what I need vs. what I want. I try to quiet the argument quickly by telling myself simply to “get up”. Sometimes I go ahead and get dressed and make the bed, and other times I simply head straight down the stairs to the couch. My basket of invitation is sitting there waiting– a prayer journal, a Bible, some non-fiction Christian books. I begin with Anne Ortlund or Elisabeth Elliot, my soul craving women whose lives were marked with singular focus of surrender, obedience, and service.
I am not a naturally consistent person. I live in the realm of feelings, of inspiration, of hoping that I will feel right and then do right. I have never liked the slow road of faithfulness, but prefer newness, possibility, honeymoon periods. Daily repetition of tasks, here a little, there a little, has been something I have had to grow into over years and years, choosing what I believe is right even though it can often feel “bad” or feel like nothing. Some people crave sameness, repetition, consistent routines. Not me.
This summer I realized that my life has been marked by the thrill of entertainment for the past few years. I have had an unhealthy drive towards movies and shows, staying up too late, not receiving the real nourishment my soul needs. I actually was building a life of consistency around the wrong things. I enjoy the art of whole-hearted acting, of interesting story-telling, compelling characters, and a message that makes you think and evaluate your life. This is good + beautiful. But my life was being shaped by the inane, the mostly ridiculous, crowding out space for deeper growth, intellectual stimulation, and closeness with Christ. My appetites were disordered, and I was feasting on the lesser things of life. If there is a spiritual food pyramid, then the top of it, the part that is to be small, had been flipped, now becoming the foundation.
Conviction and repentance are the sweetest gifts, good news from a far-off land. I feel so grateful for God’s grace in gently showing me that I had disordered priorities. Through preaching and books, He showed me that He was not preeminent in my life. How do I know? I look at the pages of my calendar. How we spend our time is how we spend our lives. Our spent time is a mirror to what we hold most dear. I was staring at hours of time spent on arranging comfort, entertainment, believing it was giving me real life, a quenched thirst, a fullness. I didn’t realize how emaciated my soul really was. Only the Spirit could reveal that. I pride myself on being in tune with myself, knowing where I am, but I was yet again misled in my beliefs that I know the deeper story.
And so I begin again. And again. I read in an Anne Ortlund book that even as a long-time believer, she had new spiritual awakening and renewal at the age of 46. I had tears slide down my cheeks when I read that, because I am newly 46, and it felt like the comforting hand of God on my shoulder, seeing me and offering a beautiful invitation. In the middle years of life, when it all feels routine — repeated cycles of housekeeping, errands, and availability to the needs of dependents — God still offers us spiritual awakening! He wants to meet us, speak, renew, and deepen us, not just at the decade marks, or in the midst of big life transitions or decisions, or at the cusp of a new stage of life, but right here, right now in the boring days of unsexy 46.
That warm Hand on my shoulder drew me near and gave me the “want to” to repent, reorder my priorities, and to have my time reflect that. I want the pages of my days to reflect the deeper places of my heart, honoring my love relationship with Him by reserved time in the early hours for just us. I want to choose that tender morning quiet over a late-night Netflix binge, the drone of football commentary, or the fast pace of a gripping novel. In this season of raising children and the daily meeting of their legitimate needs, I have to make intentional choices of how to spend the margins of the day. Will I consistently choose the routes of emotional escape or will I show up to the well of living water, of intimacy with my Lord, of conversation and listening to Him? These choices seem simplistic, but they aren’t. It feels like real loss to give up what your flesh craves. There is a daily, sometimes unconscious, mental argument over decisions of how to spend our time.
Lord, help us with the small, daily, repetitive decisions. Prompt us to choose Life over ease, intimacy over escape, nutrients over emptiness. Reorder our minutes. Speak tenderly to us in the seconds. May our days be marked by companionship with You, keeping in step with the Spirit. Filled + renewed + matured in You. Amen.