a devotional for the reluctant

I’ll be the first to say it. Devotionals can be, well…boring.

There was a time in my life, the first few years after becoming a Christian, when I read the Bible for the first time and took every class I could find, reading every Christian book that came my way. My brain was full and happy. Then, something interesting happened.

Part of it was lack of discipline as the excitement of new faith wore off. Part of it was the maturity and knowledge I’d gained in those years, which slowly transformed my reaction to certain spiritual writings from:

Wait, WHAT? No way! Brilliant!
Well, um, duh.

I suppose this is how many church kids feel when they face the challenge of making their faith their own. Even though my faith has always been “my own,” I found myself in recent years sitting in front of a Bible and a short stack of devotional guides thinking, why is this so boring?

Let me say for the record: God is not boring. The Creator of the universe is alive and well and doesn’t need people to make Him more interesting. The problem was me, in my little bubble of short-sightedness, not wanting to explore life with God if it meant taking time away from my “more exciting” life.

Still, the feeling was real. This feeling that everything was going along just the same as it ever was, that it was foolish to think spending time with God would grant me a grand insight into life I didn’t have already. That sounds so arrogant, right? For someone who believes in God to say a few years of study has granted them all the wisdom God has to offer. And I thought: there has to be a better way to get through this than opening the Bible at random each day and forcing myself to read. (Something I’ve done a lot this year, with mixed results).

It seemed fitting to start my new series of devotionals with the truth—that my biggest struggle in life right now is to learn from God’s word each day. I have a feeling some of you can relate, which is why I made this first devotional:

A Devotional for People Who Avoid Spending Time with God

Wahoo! Here we go…

1. Take a few minutes to meditate on the following verses:

Joshua 1:7-9 (God speaking to Joshua)
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

2 Timothy 3:14-17 (Paul writing to Timothy, a younger leader in the early church)
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

James 1:22-25 (James writing to early followers of Christ)
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

2. Time to write! (Don’t worry, you can just make a list if you’re a bit journal-phobic like me.) Write down some ways that interacting with scripture helps you in your everyday life. Also list a few consequences or dangers of putting off time with God. You probably already know these, but it’s good to be specific as it leads to better reflection and equally-specific ways we can apply scripture to our lives.

Last, think of some reasons you might be avoiding devotional times. Do you dislike being alone? Are you hanging on to something you’re afraid God will ask you to abandon? Write these out, too.

3. Ask God for help. It’s surprisingly easy to forget to pray when we’re trying really hard to achieve something.

If you want to get practical (and please do), schedule a time and set an alarm each day to remind yourself to take time alone with God. Choose a time when you can realistically sit down and have some space. Depending on how complicated your life and schedule are, this may take some concerted effort. You’ll have to decide if it is worth it. Take some time to journal about that, too. And don’t forget to ask for advice from others in the same boat.

Did you make it? Congrats! Now here’s to many more God times as we learn to ignore that nagging voice who tells us we have better things to do.

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