Week 8 Hope and Certainty
When We Are Tired
God’s rule is not “work before play” but rather, “partake before work.” Partaking of the Lord is recreation for our spirits; there is no refreshment so complete as basking in the light of His holy presence and word.
e need to believe strongly in Christ’s assertion that if we give God first place in our lives, He will provide for all our needs.[i] This belief is a vital portion of our willingness to seek Him early, ahead of the crushing responsibilities of our days. It is important to release even the need for sleep into God’s hands with a willingness to come when He calls, because the night watches (as the Bible calls the hours when we usually are asleep) can provide precious, quiet time for the Lord to speak to our hearts.
This is difficult. We are often tired, and exhaustion brings its own challenges; we become inefficient, every difficulty seems magnified, and hopelessness creeps in. But more often, it is fear of exhaustion rather than exhaustion itself that is the stumbling block that prevents us from meeting our spirits’ needs for sustenance from God through praise, Scripture, and prayer. We forget the Lord is able to sustain us, and that when we put Him first He is able to work supernaturally to lighten our burdens.
There is no required formula for a “good” devotion time with the Lord. I remember reading a homeschooling mother’s account of one of the reasons she loved teaching her children at home; she felt free to focus on one subject at a time for weeks on end as the child’s needs required. The Lord allows us this same freedom; at times He may know that our hearts need the encouragement of praise, and the entirety of our devotion times may be spent in thanksgiving. In other seasons we are burdened by difficult situations in our lives, and our prayer times are spent mostly in intercession. Any template for a devotion time should be flexible, and although we don’t want to continue indefinitely in one phase of interaction with the Lord (no more than a teacher would continue presenting only math and no reading for an entire semester), we need to allow ourselves to follow His lead.
But what of the days when we oversleep, or miss His call, or sin by being unwilling to come? In my Alzheimer’s mom’s words, “Sometimes I let go of Him, but He never lets go of me.” We mustn’t allow our sin to cause us to close our minds to Him, because He doesn’t ever veil Himself from us. His arms are always open, and He will provide for us out of His mercy and grace. We may let Him down by refusing a call to prayer, but He will not let us down when we call out to Him for help. However, we do need to be aware of a common stumbling block; it is typical human (sinful) behavior to rail out at God in anger when things go badly as a result of our having failed to listen to His guidance. When circumstances seem to turn against us we need to quickly come to the Lord in humility and prayer and not waste time blaming Him for the natural consequences of our own sin. He will not disappoint us. Sometimes we are like children who stick fingers in their ears with a refusal to listen; but even then He is merciful.
We often blame physical weariness on lack of self-discipline, and believe if we could only discipline our bodies adequately we could keep weariness at bay. But often it is simply the inherent frailty of the flesh that brings exhaustion, and the solution to this weariness is not stricter discipline of our physical bodies (we will only become more depleted), but more time spent sitting at Jesus’ feet. The Holy Spirit can bring new energy not just to our souls, but also to our physical bodies as we seek Him ahead of any program of physical self-discipline. The world’s view tells us that hard work earns rest, but in the Lord’s perspective the opposite is true; if we rest in Him ahead of the work of the day, we will find our burdens are lifted in ways we could not have achieved for ourselves. And, obedience is energizing!
Pray: Dear Lord, help me to view my daily time with You as a luxury of indulgence rather than as a rule I must follow. Forgive me for being slow to come when You call; teach me to come eagerly, as I would if a lover or a dear friend knocked at my door. You are the One who knows me best and loves me most, Lord, I come to You! Grant me the grace and ability to give you first place in my life every day of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.