We were barreling down the road somewhere in the middle of Oklahoma two summers ago when I heard my phone ring. We’d been on the road for 3 weeks and I was friendsick, so despite the noise in the bus, I answered it. Little did I know this conversation would be a turning point on my journey.
(This is the 5th installment in a series about how I went from a stressed-out pharisee to a grace-girl in love with Jesus. Get caught up here.)
I was 5 years into motherhood with 3 children to date, and survival mode had become the norm. I got through each day, found the smiles, chugged through the fog, and fell into bed at the end of the day, grateful for basic things like food and sleep. Prayers centered around getting the laundry done, making the budget stretch, and potty training woes. I had a picture of what pursuing God looked like, and none of that fit in my life as a mom, so I had resigned myself that this season was one to survive, and that growing in my faith would have to happen at a later date. I knew I was on a plateau, but I had no idea how to find the heights again.
Then Katie called.
I could tell within 2 minutes that Katie was calling from the top of a mountain. She’d started some discipleship thing a few weeks ago and the Lord was meeting her and revealing Himself to her and she was totally on a spiritual high. Inwardly I sighed as I computed, “She’s single, she’s got most of her time to herself, she can afford these trips to the mountaintop. I don’t have the resources to make the journey.” I was as happy for her as I could be while carrying a feeling of jealousy. I thought a husband and children were my gift in this season, time with God was hers in her singleness.
Then Katie handed me a ticket.
She offered to turn around and lead me through the discipleship process she was in the middle of. She offered me a hand, and invited me up to the heights.
I was skeptical. I didn’t have time for one more thing in my schedule. And I’d kinda given up on finding God in this season–I figured He’d probably given up on me a little bit to–as much as a faithful God could give up, I mean.
But I said yes. To a Skype date with her and our Bibles, one night a week, after my babies went to bed. I did have that much free time in my schedule–but I didn’t usually have the gumption left at the end of my day to sit down and use it for Bible study. Maybe if I did it with someone, I’d have success. Yes, maybe it was accountability I needed.
Actually, what my try-hard self really needed was a renewed vision of my Heavenly Father, a reminder that my faith was not something I had to build, heft, and haul around myself, but that our relationship was something sustained by His love, and was designed to carry me through whatever season I was in.
Accountability to time in the Word was a great thing. But what the next few months showed me about my Father’s love was what forever changed how I approached devotions, prayer time, and spiritual disciplines.
Together Katie and I dug into 1 John. We read and discussed passages like…
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1b)
“For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20)
…and gradually my view of my Heavenly Father expanded beyond rule-maker, judge, blessing-doller-outer, and accountant, to a Father who’s love was so big and wide, there was nothing in my life (even my inability to find time for Him) that could keep us apart.
There was one moment of revelation, when after a stretch of time in which my time with Katie was the only time I’d opened my Bible in weeks, I sat down to–in my mind–reconcile with my Father, only to have the distinct feeling as I sat in His presence that…He wasn’t displeased with me. He understood the challenges and my own weak flesh. And instead of requiring some kind of penance for my ignoring Him, He was glad I was joining Him now. I finally experienced in my soul the truth Katie had been trying to get me to see for weeks…
He never calls us to less of Himself.
When we come to Him, He meets with us. We do not have to grovel, show ourselves to be penitent by a certain amount of good works, or sit through a ‘spiritual time out’ before we can once again be in fellowship. We can bring Him our weary heart and all the poor decisions that got us to this point, and He forgives us, tosses all that junk behind Him, and says, ‘let’s fellowship!”
All it takes is repentance.
And as I was to learn further in my journey, even the repentance is a gift.
Next time I’ll share with you more of how discipleship forever changed my walk with God, and how I learned to find Him in the middle of the chaos of early motherhood. Have you struggled to find time with God in the season you’re in?