Once upon a time, long, LONG ago I was a gym rat. It was ridiculous. I spent most of my free time there and when I wasn’t there I was planning my workout for my next visit. Warm-up. Cardio. Abs. Free weights. Stretch. I probably knew a whole lot less about exercise than I thought I did, but I still went all out. All. Out. My philosophy was that if I wasn’t going to workout hard, I might as well not even workout at all.
Then life changed.
I got married and had my first kid. And, well… Getting to the gym wasn’t as easy as it was when I was single, when the only person I had to consider was myself. I no longer had two consecutive hours to myself, let alone 20 minutes to take care of my body. So what did I do?
I just gave up.
If I couldn’t go all out, what was the point? If I couldn’t run on the treadmill til I was dripping sweat or crunch til my abs burned or squat until I could no longer walk then I was wasting my time… or so I thought. A 15 minute walk around the neighborhood with a stroller was not my idea of a workout… so why bother?
I’d just wait a few more weeks until the baby started sleeping through the night… or find time in the morning before she woke up… or would run to the gym on my lunch break… or ask the sitter to keep her a bit longer at the end of the day or… Or… Or… The ors never quite happened and thus I gave up the gym life all together.
And guess what? Surprise! My level of physical fitness dropped dramatically.
I often find myself standing before a similar hurdle when it comes to drawing near to the Lord. If I can’t go all out during my quiet time, why bother? If I can’t spend an hour on my knees weeping in prayer, then prayer seems worthless. If I can’t read chapters of my Bible without being interrupted by the kids or the dog, then it’s pointless to even take it off the shelf. If I can’t fill pages in my journal of lovely praises, well, then I won’t praise. If I can’t get myself out of bed at least an hour before the sunrises to spend quiet time with the Lord, then I won’t get up at all.
For some reason my gym philosophy — go harder or don’t bother — has made it’s way into my beliefs about who I am as a daughter of the King. The funny thing is, I know this philosophy is wrong.
When it comes to exercise, a little bit is better than nothing. A 20 minute walk around the block is far more beneficial than 20 minutes in front of the TV. And the same goes for spending time with Jesus. Twenty small prayers lifted up throughout the day are better than 20 thoughts of guilt because I didn’t get up early enough for quiet time.
We recently adopted a puppy and because he needs walked (or I find holes in my backyard) I am forced to exercise. No, it’s not sweat-dripping, muscles-burning exercise. But it is exercise and it didn’t take long after I started walking him that I noticed a small change in the way my clothes fit. Not only that, I began to have more energy and getting out of bed in the morning, though not may favorite thing to do, was getting somewhat less taxing. The short “worthless” walk around the block was beginning to make a positive difference on my overall health.
The same is also true about my time with my Lord and Savior. Whether it’s two minutes or two hours, no time in the Word or in prayer or in praise is wasted. Yet so much time can be wasted when I choose to believe that short moments are worthless.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways,
Gracious in all His works,
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desires of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.
The LORD preserves all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD,
And all flesh shall bless His holy name
Forever and ever.
Psalm 145:17-21 (emphasis mine)
The Lord promises to be near to all who call upon Him. There is no asterisk in the passage that says I must create the perfect setting or reserve a set amount of time in order to get Him to draw near. The promise is simply that He is near.
He also promises to fulfill the desires of those who fear Him. And guess what? If you are like me and desire quiet, uninterrupted, near perfect times with Him, I truly believe that in the right season He will provide this for you. In the meantime, however, He will persevere you, reassuring you that He is there. He is near.
Despite the piles of laundry, despite the rowdy children in the next room, despite the dog whining at the front door…
He is there.
So draw near.
What are you — what am I! — wait for?
Only by grace,
P.S. When I was done writing this post, I walked into the kitchen to wash the dishes and pray. Within moments one of my rowdies came in and gave me hug. “What’s up?” I asked. “Oh, I just heard you praying and thought I’d pop in and pray with you,” he said. My heart melted! Yet, another reason we don’t always need that “perfect” quiet time.
P.S.S. If you have 15 minutes a day and want to learn more about drawing near to God, consider reading my friend Katie’s study, Everyday Faith (affiliate link). You won’t regret it.