The Perfect quiet time?

Don’t sacrifice the good for the perfect.

The Perfect setting.

I say this often, but we live in strange times!
We spend a lot of our free time on social media with picture perfect representations of life. Pictures of perfect vacations, perfectly decorated homes, perfect outfits and clothes to make the perfect impression, perfectly toned and groomed bodies… the “perfect” life.
Nothing is ever completely neutral, it all has an effect on our thoughts and feelings or even our lives. We start to feel the pressure to pursue perfection for ourselves.
Who doesn’t want a beautiful home that’s always tidy, who doesn’t want beautiful clothes, who doesn’t want to go on a lovely holiday? We all do…
Now there’s nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward or to always give it your best.
We should do all things to the best of our ability but there is a big difference between good and perfect.

In a time of photo editing, CGI and just high standards of quality and perfection we tend to forget an age old truth…
Nothing and no one is perfect!

The same sometimes go for our Bible study or devotional time.
We have this idyllic picture in our minds of how this time with our Lord should look and how exactly we should feel before, during and after.
How does this picture look to you? What do you imagine yourself doing and how do you imagine yourself feeling?
I’m sure you can picture this perfect Bible study time setting.
The problem with perfectionism is when our experience is not exactly as we have hoped and pictured, we go away disappointed or even worse; if we can’t have everything perfect and just as we want, we don’t want to even bother.

This is when we need to ask the question “why?”.
Why do we study the Bible or why do we have a Devotional time? What is it and what is it about?

Firstly I can tell you what it is not about.
It’s not about pursuing perfection or about pursuing an unrealistic idea of perfection.
This time of devotion is not about us. It’s not about spending some quiet time alone. It’s not about finding yourself.
Nor is it meditation to help you find balance and calm you down. It’s not about getting a motivational message.
It’s not about setting the perfect tone, mood or start to your day.
And it certainly is not about having the newest, most beautiful and trendy Bible or having all the pretty notebooks, journals and highlighters or about drinking your coffee in the pretty coffee mug with a motivational verse on it.
It’s not about sitting in the perfect spot with the most beautiful view of nature.

Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with pretty journals or coffee mugs or making your quiet time as nice and enjoyable as you want to. I simply want to make the point that time spent in Scripture and with God is not dependent on our external environment or even on our internal mood, feelings and emotions.

We often refer to our Bible study time or our time in prayer as Devotional time; well that is what dedicated time spent in prayer or Bible study is all about. Devotion!
The definition of the word Devotion is: “love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person or activity”.
Synonyms include: “loyalty, faithfulness, commitment, constancy, steadfastness.
The root word for Devotion is Devote, which means: “to give all or most of one’s time, attention or resources to a person or activity.” It means “to consecrate, allocate, commit, surrender and sacrifice.
More than just our dedicated time of devotion or Bible study, this is how the life of a Christian should look.
We are not called to pursue a life of earthly perfection we are called to pursue a life of obedience to Christ.

The not-so-perfect reality.

When all of those nice, pretty little extras are taken away, will we still want to spend time in Scripture?
If the whole experience is not about us and how we feel, do we still want to do it and make the effort?
Would we still want to faithfully surrender, sacrifice and commit our time?
If we have to read uncomfortable parts in the Bible, not because we like it or it makes us feel nice and inspired but because it is part of God’s Word and He asks of us to be obedient, will we still read it and live accordingly in obedience?

When all of those nice, pretty little extras are taken away , will we be able to still praise God just because
He is God Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth
Will we be able to worship our LORD even in a dirty, dark and ice cold prison cell like Paul and Silas did in Acts 16?
Will we still be able to rejoice in God even when everything seems to be going wrong? When our own dreams, goals and aspirations are not going according our plan?

Now there might come times when reading your Bible can start to feel like you are chewing an old piece of bubble gum, it’s starting to get hard and tough, the flavour is out and you are not getting anything of nutritious value from it.
But be assured everything in the Bible does have value. It is good for us in these times to keep going, to persevere and to stay loyal and committed, not because we “get something out of it” or “it makes us feel nice” but because we diligently seek to understand the word of God, know Him more and to be sanctified in truth,
for His word is Truth {John 17:17}
How we feel about the Bible, or spending time studying the Bible, does not determine it’s value.
Spending time studying the Bible does not have to be “perfect”, we only need to come to the Lord with a sincere and humbled heart and eager to meet with Him.
We don’t need a “perfect” setting because we have a perfect God.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though the flocks disappear from the pen and there are no herds in the stalls,
yet I will celebrate in the Lord; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!
Habakkuk 3:17-18

Please, I urge you to always go and read all scripture quoted or mentioned in this post.

Photo Credit: Photo by Jasmin Ne on Unsplash