Ending Up Frustrated After Quiet Times
Sometimes, my quiet times leave me frustrated. During those times, I end up either not gaining any new knowledge about the Bible or God, or learning something new but couldn’t even remember it at other times of the day (so obviously, it did not have an impact on me). Should I call these quiet times failures? I hope you can relate with me (Actually, I’m experiencing these kinds of times lately).
Tim Challies offers a different perspective. I remembered a blog of his which he posted last year. I am thankful for it.
Date Nights and Devotions
In his blog Date Nights & Devotions, Challies likens devotional times to a date. He makes a reflection on his dates with his wife Aileen:
I think we’re good at dating. We both know that the main point of spending this kind of time together is to return home with a lot of new knowledge about one another. We like to head to a favorite restaurant and split a sandwich and an order of 4-cheese spinach dip. We just sit and talk. And when we head home we know we’ve had a good date if we’ve learned things about the other that we didn’t know before. If we haven’t learned anything new we know that our date hasn’t been so good and we swear that we’ll do better next time. Because this is the point of dating—to accumulate knowledge about the person you love.
But he proceeds with this:
I’m lying. Well, only partially. That is exactly how we date these days. But it’s not at all how we gauge the success of our dates. We know we’ve had a good date when we’ve enjoyed spending time together. We don’t need to learn anything new. We don’t need to gain facts. We just need to be together, enjoying one another’s presence. We can go shopping and sit in a bookstore and consider it a great date. We return home refreshed, renewed and loving one another more than when we set out. And that’s a great date. (Emphasis added)
He’s right. The point of dating is to enjoy spending time with another person. What’s the point if one had a better knowledge (or actually remembered a new knowledge) about the other person after a date, but didn’t really enjoy the time spent together?
Sure, having a new knowledge of another person is important. But it is not the final measure of success of dates.
Then Challies writes (and this is convicting):
But isn’t it funny that when it comes to personal devotions, when it comes to our relationship to the Lord, we change the rules. We judge the success of our time with the Lord by what we get out of it, by what we remember, by what we’ve learned. We consider our devotions a success when we learn some new fact about God or about the Bible. We admire those who have great biblical knowledge or a great memory for the facts of what they’ve read. We get discouraged and want to give up when we feel like we have learned nothing through that day’s devotions. (Emphasis added)
This is definitely true of me. I believe many can relate to this as well.
Actually Spending Time with God, and Enjoying the Moment
Let me excerpt from Challies’ blog one more time:
But what if we are missing the point? What if the point of devotions is less about learning about God and more about spending time with God? What if it’s less about Bible study and more about building relational intimacy? What would change about our devotions if instead of trying to learn about God, we focused instead on spending time with God, time spent hearing from him through his Word and speaking to him through prayer? If this is the case it doesn’t much matter what we remember at the end of it because the joy has been in the moment, the value has been in the time spent together. The joy of dating isn’t in the aftermath but in the moment. And I think the same can be true with our devotions. (Emphasis added)
Now, I’m trying something else for a change. In recent times, I just read through a portion of the Bible. And if I can’t get any new fact from it, I just let it go. My personal Bible study will compensate for any knowledge I didn’t acquire during my quiet times.
So lately in my quiet times, I’ve been spending more time talking to God, lifting Him my desires and concerns, and listening to Him, rather than trying to squeeze out the Scripture (in a short time), which sucks all my energy and leaves me frustrated.
I can say that I’m actually spending time with God, and enjoying my moment with Him.