It's the hardest time of the day - 4:30PM. You're trying to start dinner, you're changing the baby's diaper, meltdowns and sibling rivalry are rising up around you on all sides. Your husband will be home soon and you've got to get everyone fed and out the door by 5:30 for baseball practice. You're standing in the kitchen thinking, when will I learn to use the Crockpot on crazy days like this? Why can't I be more organized?
While you wait for the water to boil, you grab your phone and open Instagram in hopes of drowning out the screams and catching a small break. It's here that you see a tidy little square, mostly white, with a mom sitting down and reading her Bible. Her thumb nail is painted a glorious shade of pink, her jeans are for sure a size two, and her couch is filled with clean, perfectly fluffed throw pillows. Her caption reads something like "Soaked in my Savior before my day got started! Always worth it." Guilt sets in and you think, when was the last time I spent time with God? I don't even know if I've gone pee today. Actually I really need to pee right now...
Oh mama, I want to hug you! I want to take you by the hand and look awkwardly-deep into your eyes and shout the truth to you!
Let's take a step back and I'll explain. I'll start with the big L word. No not that L word. I'm talking about legalism. Legalism is basically doing works in an attempt to get 'in' with God. It's doing something in order to win His love. Legalism is works-based faith; it is everything Jesus came to abolish.
When we spend time with God out of obligation, guilt, or just to check it off our to do list, we're living out a legalistic faith. I believe with every ounce of my being, that this breaks the heart of God in a very deep, very painful way.
Why? Because you already have God's love, and it's unconditional. This means no matter what you do, how you spend your time, how you mess up your kids, God loves you. Actually, He adores you! He's head-over-heels crazy about you, all the time, no matter what.
God is in your midst... He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love. He will exult over you with loud singing.
Now, let me clarify. I am not saying that setting aside quiet time to spend with God is legalistic. Absolutely not. I am talking about the motive behind the time spent. Is it anything other than needing Him? Wanting Him? God looks at the heart, and it's a heart He desperately wants.
The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7b
God does not want your obligatory acts of forced worship. He wants YOU!
Spending time with God in the morning, then going about the rest of your day without Him is the equivalent of going to church on Sunday, then living a very ungodly life Monday through Saturday. Works out of obligation do nothing; acts of worship bring us closer to the God who so desperately wants a relationship with us, He has done everything to show us.
God knows the season you're in better than anyone else because He placed you there. He sees you trying desperately to find five minutes to shower and brush your teeth, He sees you battling depression, He sees you rushing to get dinner ready before t-ball practice. And guess what? He's not sitting on His throne, looking down at you, judging you for not waking up at 4AM to fit in quiet time with Him. He's not counting how many minutes you've spent on your couch with an open Bible this week. He stands at the door and knocks for you. He stands at the door and knocks for your heart.
Your life is the perfect stage for beautiful acts of worship. Whether you go to work or stay home, whether you cook or order take-out most nights, whether you have babies or teenagers or both, right where you are is a sturdy platform for you to honor the King in the most humble, real way.
I recently had about twenty minutes of purposeful, set aside quiet time with the Lord because I was really anxious about something, and I desperately needed to soak up His presence and His peace. Do you know when the last time was that I did that before this week? I couldn't tell you. It wasn't recently, that's for sure. Why? Because I have four kids under age seven, we've moved away from all helpful family members, and I'm starting a business from home! But I dare to say that I have spent some incredibly profound moments with my Savior on an almost-daily basis for a long time.
My life is an act of worship. My work is worship; it's obedience to the call of God on my life. When I serve my family it's worship, when I wash the dishes it's worship, when I fold everyone's laundry, it's worship.
Not only are the things I do all day acts of worship, but my attitude while doing them can be an act of worship. It's so easy to become ungrateful. When I choose to see three sick kids and a to do list as long as the Great Wall of China as a worship opportunity, ingratitude no longer has a place to take root in my heart. When I choose to see that pile of dishes as an opportunity to listen to worship music and spiritually pause for a second, ingratitude, again, has no place to grow.
I have spent so many beautiful moments at the foot of Jesus while scrubbing my countertops. I have felt the very breath of God wash over me while I mopped the kitchen floor. I walk with a God who wants my heart, and obligatory acts of fake worship are not his thang. He meets us where we're at, and that's the most amazing thing about Him for an overwhelmed mom.
Come near to God and He will come near to you.