Mary SAT at Jesus’ feet.
I doubt she had a computer in her lap so she could work on lesson plans in the spare minutes. I doubt she was even doing handwork, like, say, knitting a gift for someone’s birthday.
I think she was just sitting.
I don’t do a whole lot of that.
I CAN’T do a whole lot of that.
I’ve heard several pastors talk about the hours they spend studying the Scriptures. They talk about gaining great insights during these big chunks of time. The Bible, too, tells the stories of prophets and apostles who followed this practice. Most importantly, it gives the example of Christ, who regularly spent focused time in solitude, prayer, and fasting.
When I hear pastors share of hours spend in study or I think about Daniel’s twice-daily focused prayer times, I feel discouraged. I can’t spend hours a day reading, studying, and meditating on God’s Word. I don’t even have a whole lot of quiet time, much less sitting time.
I’m not alone. For most of my mom friends, the bathroom’s not even a guaranteed “alone spot.”
So how can we have daily intimacy with Christ? Is it possible without gobs and gobs of free time?
I would like to argue yes, it is.
Again, I’m NOT saying that solitude and focused prayer aren’t important. I regularly NEED to be a Mary. But as I rush around in my usual Martha life, I sometimes cheat myself by thinking, “Well, since I can’t spend an hour in prayer, I can’t pray.” I don’t take captive the bits of time I DO have.
And, like so many of my errors, this one, too, comes from a wrong view of God, a wrong view of how He loves us.
When our oldest, Emily, began talking, Dave and I had to learn a new way of conversing. As our household has continued to grow, we’ve had to adapt it more and more. We don’t wait until we have a big chunk of time to have meaningful conversation. If we did, we never would. One of us shares something, even something deep. Before the other person can respond, someone or something interrupts. We put on Lego arms; we break up budding arguments; we answer homework questions; we fill out field trip request forms, etc. And our conversation flows around all of it. We understand that trips to the coffee shop for us to talk through an issue cannot happen every day (though they need to happen regularly), and this is our life.
Is God any different? Does He not know what my life is like?
He has given me four children, two international students, a husband, and a job. Would He really say to me, “Oh, no, don’t you try to talk to me with all these other things going on! It’s got to be one-on-one or not at all.”
No way! To think this way is to say that God is less wise than Dave and I. Heaven forbid!
Absolutely, alone-alone time with Him is NECESSARY, but for me to walk with Him through my day, for me to ABIDE in Him, intimacy has GOT to be built through the nitty-gritty.
And I’ve got to take advantage of tiny moments. Paul says, “We…take every thought captive to obey Christ.” What if I take every MINUTE captive? And my thoughts along with them!
One busy, rushed Sunday morning last fall I “finally” got to sit down at church. My body sank gratefully into the seat. But my thoughts didn’t sit. They raced, reviewing wrongs and frustrations, fighting battles. The Holy Spirit interrupted this tirade. “Save the battle for when you are IN it. I’ve given you THIS time. BE in it.”
There are many minutes in my day when my full mind doesn’t need to be completely involved in what I’m doing. Working out, doing laundry, cooking even: how often are my thoughts running rampant in these times rather than turning to conversation with God?
I’ve begun taking practical steps to help me take these minutes captive.
I’ve pasted verses above the sink so I can meditate on those while I’m washing dishes. I take my mp3 player down to the laundry room and listen to the Bible on audio while I fold and sort. I’m learning to turn off the radio in the car after I drop the kids off and spend a few quiet minutes. I carry verses on notecards while I walk the dog.
They add up.
They add up to prayer.
And, really, they add up to intimacy.