Sunday, February 2, 2014

Focusing on Love

Every year, for as long as I can remember, I have tried (emphasis on tried) to read the Bible through in a year.  And I am not sure I can remember accomplishing that goal even one time--a fact that has left me riddled with guilt -- day after day, year after year.  Even when I am faithfully reading my Bible, I'm not really spending time with my Maker because of one of two reasons:

1.  I'm feeling guilty about not being "caught up" and am madly rushing through the required reading.  OR
2.  I am "caught up" and feels so good about myself (aka "self righteous") that I don't get anything out of it because of all the pride swelling up inside me.

Maybe I'm the only one who has ever felt this way, but it is something that I have wrestled and struggled with for quite some time.  So after another year in 2013 of said failure, I started rethinking my approach to this quiet time with my God.  Does He require me to read through the Bible each year?  Is that the only way He will truly be happy and well-pleased with me?  I certainly hope not!

You see, I have been the mother of small children for more than 16 years now.  Time is a precious commodity in the realm of Motherhood.  Then factor in sick or fussy children, sleepless nights rendering you a barely functioning modicum of a person, piles of dishes, mountains of laundry, cooking three meals per day, cleaning those toilets and sinks and floors, kissing boo boos, reading books, doctor's appointments, dentist appointments, bike rides, walks, trips to the library and the park and the grocery store, and now this precious commodity becomes a rare and priceless gem.  Something akin to a diamond really.  At least it sometimes (okay, most times :) seems to be that elusive.

So I find myself thinking that all of the people who have ever told me indirectly through preaching or whatever that I'm not "right with God" if I don't read my Bible through every year might not have it right.  Perhaps they didn't mean the words as my mind interpreted them.  Perhaps the blame lies with me.  I don't know.

Since Jesus left His home in Heaven to dwell among men, the Christian life is no longer simply a set of rules as it was in the Old Testament.  I am not against rules.  I think they are necessary and even important, as they establish boundaries and guidelines.  With the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ came the ability and freedom to have a relationship with Christ.  Relationships must have boundaries, but the relationship is not defined by those boundaries.  Truth be told, if the relationship is a strong and healthy one, the boundaries will never be needed.  If my relationship with Jesus is what it should be, I will be drawn to Him.  Demanding of myself to "read through the Bible in a year" has not produced a strong, healthy relationship with Christ, which is what I am seeking.

Maybe a pastor or someone in full-time Christian service has several hours a day to devote to Bible reading and can read through the four required chapters plus have extra time to follow "rabbit trails".  As a mother of many little people, I don't have that luxury.  Most days, I'm trying to cram a few minutes in my Bible while I'm hiding in the bathroom!  That's my reality.

So this year, I am following my heart and what I think God is telling me to do.  There are so many specific areas of my life that I need to work on, not to mention areas that I am prompted to teach my children.  So I have started this year with a word study on love.  I have spent years focusing on my bad character traits and qualities and trying to eradicate them by dwelling on them all of the time.  This year, God has changed my focus from MY bad qualities to HIS good qualities.  I am also reading through Psalms and Proverbs and the New Testament as I have time.

And do you know what?  I am LOVING IT!!!  I am having the time of my life.  God is speaking to me and showing me things because I have slowed down a little.  It's not a race.  It's a relationship.  Let God guide you in your relationship with Him.