Thursday, July 24, 2008

His voice

I was reading in John 10 the other morning and was drawn to the following verses:
"and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out,"
"and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice," and
"yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."

This made me think of the story in 1 Samuel 3 when God calls out to Samuel, and the boy mistakenly thinks it is the voice of Eli the High-Priest. In the passage Samuel is just a child and has not yet encountered the Lord in a personal way...he does not yet know God's voice. The scenario repeats 3 times before Eli realizes that it is God calling Samuel, but eventually he directs the boy on how to respond.

The fact that Eli was slow to recognize that God was calling Samuel may be an indication that, although he was the HighPriest of Israel, his spiritual perception was out of whack. I think about my spiritual guidance for Matthew as he grows and how it will compare with that of Eli. If I want to help M know the voice of God, I have to know the voice of God myself.

When I first became a mama I sought advice from other moms as to how to fit time with God into my new schedule and, while I was looking for practical tips, I often received the answer "God knows your heart." And this is so true...God does know our hearts and is compassionate about our circumstances. We are under grace. But...the question is do we know our hearts? Do we really not HAVE time to read our Bibles, pray, spend time talking with God...or are we just not MAKING time for Him?

We need...and our children know the voice of our Good Shepherd so that we may follow Him and not a "stranger." I encourage you to faithfully spend time with God, the Lover of your soul, and learn to recognize His voice.

And for 1st time mamas (and mamas-to-be) wondering how to still seek God regularly with the new demands on your schedule, I advise that you make it a priority no matter what works for you. OK, sleep may be the utmost priority for a little while...but you may never need God more than when you first become a mama!!! This has been a huge issue for me since Matthew has had such crazy sleep. It has honestly been only in the last month or so that I have been rested enough in the morning to even focus my eyes let alone focus on God...or that M hasn't awaken way too early to give me ANY time alone AT ALL (even with leaving him in his crib for awhile).

Here are some possible suggestions that may/may not work depending on your life and your baby! My readers who are veteran mamas may say "DUH!", but first timers may find this helpful. Feel free to leave your ideas in the comment section!

- take your shower at night so that you can have extra time in the morning with God

- dedicate the first 20 mins or so of baby's naptime with God (difficult I know when those dishes are begging to be washed)

- after dinner let daddy enjoy some time with baby while you steal away with God

- once a week after the baby is in bed for the night, leave daddy at home and head to a coffee shop for a little date with God

- set aside 15 mins or so each day for reading the Word while baby is awake. You could read aloud while baby plays nearby or eats breakfast. I keep a stack of books at the table, and one is like a topical Bible. So I read to M verses about love and sharing and anger. OR perhaps you want to begin teaching your child that mamas are people, too, and so explain that it's your time to spend with God. Encourage them to look at their Bible during that time, as well. I think this is a great idea because it models for your child a diligence in seeking God.

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts...Hebrews 3:7,8


Kerry said...

How do you KNOW what people need to hear at the time they need to hear it?! :)

I have been thinking about spirituality a lot lately and you are right that we need to make the time. I try to make my time in bed at night before I go to sleep. Even if it is only 5-10 minutes, it makes a huge difference to go to sleep feeling at peace after a long, stressful day.

Andrea said...

Now see.. It just goes to show- You CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
I am a 5th time Mama and I am going to try the "Give the kids to Dad"trick.
Nothing better than a "God Lovin' Mama".

Loving Tish.


Mark, Rebecca and Sophia said...

Thanks for sharing your heart and the things that you are working on.

I like the tip of reading verses aloud. I will do that today.

dan and rachel said...

I have loosened up my standards a bit so i can have time each morning reading the bible. i allow my son to watch a 20 min video and declare, "this is mommy's time with jesus." my daughter generally plays nearby or i feed her while i'm reading. i find if i put it off until later in the day, it's less likely to happen. my husband always takes the kids when he gets home from work so i can have some alone time (and he can have some one-on-one time with the kids) and i think this is a great idea for any mama!

Stefanie said...

I love this post, Tish! Thanks for the reminder, He HAS to be the priority, everything else will fall into place after that :)

Dianne said...

I have 3 and I really struggle with time for God. Thank you for some of the tips and the reminder.

Hauswife said...

I'm loving Tish, too! This is a struggle for me with my brood in my space all day long. But, I've been so convicted about not having enough alone time with the Lord in the last year. How can I possibly be the Christian, person, wife, mother, daughter, and friend that I'm supposed to be if God's not guiding my path?! Thanks for this.

I was going to suggest Daddy Time, but you already did. That is a lifesaver (and prayer time saver) for me!

Rebecca said...

Great post. :) This has been on my heart a lot too.

I am with you 100% that as mamas, we need to make time to spend in the Word. It is vital. But I've often found that I use devotional time as a sort of gauge for where I am with God... like, if I've had my devotions every day for a week I feel really good spiritually... if I've missed them for a week I feel really guilty.

Where I've realized the importance lies, is in delighting in the presence of God no matter where I am or what I'm doing. In 1 Thessalonians it says, "Pray without ceasing." It is truly possible to be in that prayerful mindset & communing with God even in the midst of the day-to-day. When I'm reading books with my children, I think, "My children are a blessing and a gift from God. Thank you Jesus, for them, and for the ability to read and to own books." Sometimes when I'm grocery shopping, I will pray for the people who I walk past. You start noticing sad or empty faces and you ask God to burden you for others. You start caring for people you've never met. Or seeing opportunities to minister His love. The other day I was at Wal-Mart and a young Hispanic woman was buckling her toddler into the cart, and she dropped her keys. I had my hands full too... and normally I might have walked past and let her pick up her own keys... but the Spirit told me to stop and pick up this woman's keys for her.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, the true measure of where I am with God really has more to do with His pre-eminence in my everyday life... not whether I can find 20 minutes to read my Bible in the morning. We can hear His voice anytime if we listen. I don't read my Bible every day. I do read it every week, and usually it's in large chunks at a time (like the whole book of Ephesians, etc.) And then I take the next week to just chew on what I read, meditate on it, and apply it to life. The voice of the Spirit can be heard when we read God's Word - it can also be heard when we are in the car driving to the library, or when we're in the grocery store, or giving the kids a bath. He is everywhere. It is in finding Him involved in, and caring about the everyday routine that He becomes overwhelmingly satisfying. When we start listening for that still, small voice, we hear it more and more.

Thanks for this reminder to listen!!