I was running late yesterday morning (which is often the case, just ask my family and former co-workers) but I still found 10 minutes (while eating breakfast) to read First 5. The question was asked, “When was the last time you got quiet just to listen to Jesus?” I didn’t have an answer. Long ago enough for me to not remember (insert sad face here). This caused a stirring in my heart.
As I was driving to work (my volunteer work), I decided to turn off the music and spend the 30 minutes talking to God. I asked Him to forgive me for my lack of discipline in going to bed at a reasonable time and getting up when my alarm goes off. I also asked for His forgiveness when I’ve allowed other “things” to get in the way of me spending time with Him (things = TV, computer, iPhone).
Then I prayed for His help in both areas. I laid out for Him what I desired:
- Lord, I want to go to bed by 11pm each night. This means crawling in by 10:30pm with lights out, TV off, phone hidden by 11pm! And, I want to get up at 7am whether I have someplace to be or not. It is important that I spend time with You, Lord, first thing in the morning – unrushed time.
- Lord, I also want to cut back on what I watch on TV so I can spend more time doing things You have put on my heart to do, such as writing, encouraging others, drawing closer to You.
Pretty simple, but clear. And I was going to start by going to bed at 11pm last night. Well… not so much. I got home at 9:45pm and I was wound up from my day. I took my sleeping aid (Advil PM is a good friend of mine) right away but it takes 1.5 hours to kick in (so that would be 11:15pm at the earliest). I still needed to eat dinner which I finally did at 11pm (this is not going so well is it?) When all was said and done, I turned off the TV at midnight and fell asleep. I decided that I would still commit to sleeping eight hours (lack of rest is a big issue for me) and get up at 8am even though I had no place to be and could sleep all day. I was determined to get up and start my day with God!
Now this is where the phrase “be careful what you pray for” comes into play. At 6am I woke up to tinkle (this is normal, no big deal). I crawl back into bed and I am wide awake, which is a bummer because I still have two more hours to sleep! So I start playing with my phone in hopes it will put me back to sleep (I often fall asleep with it in my hand). An hour later I am still awake! Really??? I put my phone down, turn over and close my eyes in an effort to get one more needed hour of rest. Five minutes later… and I have to get up. I believe my exact thoughts were, “I might as well get up.” Then it hit me: I prayed about getting up at 7am consistently, and I prayed about wanting to start my day with the Lord unrushed. He is answering my prayer – my very literal prayer. He arranged my circumstances in such a way that I was forced to get up; He knew I would struggle on my own (because I always do). Thank You, Lord!
Oh but wait, it gets better. So I get my breakfast ready, settle into my chair and start to read today’s First 5. The title is Stumble Free Faith and the key verse is Matthew 18:8 [NIV] “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.” Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? But the author, Wendy Pope, broke it down into practical terms using TV as an the example (see where this is going?). She was addicted to a TV show that she knew she shouldn’t be watching. With every moment she watched the show, she knew it was causing distance between her and God. In her words:
“What we listen to, watch and read may not be listed in the Bible as sin, but if participating in them doesn’t draw us closer to God, then it pulls us away from Him. A certain TV show, which will remain nameless, demonstrated lifestyles that weren’t god-honoring but I loved it. My heart stirred with an assurance that I should remove the show from my viewing list … but I loved it.
As I continued to watch the show I sensed the Lord’s displeasure and distance forged in our relationship. I felt myself stumbling away from Him. The separation from God wasn’t worth the temporary enjoyment of the show. I turned the channel and haven’t watched the show since. When we choose to walk away from rather than submitting to God’s work in our heart we separate ourselves from Him.”
Do you recall the second part of my prayer yesterday? Less TV and more time with Him. Is it merely coincidental that the VERY NEXT DAY First 5 would address this very subject? Absolutely not! Today’s message was for me. It’s God’s way of letting me know He not only heard my prayer, He is going to walk alongside me to fulfill my heart’s desire. He is so amazing. He is so faithful (by the way, I have fallen in love with Jordan Smith’s version of Great is Thy Faithfulness – check it out!).
Maybe you are someone who prays, maybe you are someone who doesn’t believe in prayer. Too much has happened in my life and through prayer that I have no choice but to believe, and that belief fills me with much hope and joy. Just know that if you cry out to God, He will not only listen but He will answer. It may not always be the answer you want or hope for, but I promise it will be an answer that truly has your best interest at heart.
If you have a prayer request that you would like to share with me, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. It would be my honor to lift you up in prayer.
Ps… I just realized that not only did I get up at 7am, I got to spend unrushed time with God, and it all turned into an unplanned blog entry (that you hopefully are reading and enjoying), which gives me such joy.