Recently I was challenged, once again, to use the devotional A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms. I had started this devotional twice before; once in February 2004 and then on December 31, 2009. I began anew today, April 16, 2019 by reading Psalm 1. While reading I recognized myself, but not as the one delighting in God’s Word or being nourished by the streams of water yielding much fruit. I saw myself as one who has found all sorts of reasons and excuses to have a quick read in Scripture and work through my prayer list quickly. While I read, I realized why I have been feeling dry and barren spiritually. I understood why I have been feeling disconnected with those God has put in my life. I have not been delving deep into God’s Word. I have neglected quality time with the Lord.
Some of you may be saying, “Debi, I don’t see that in you.” That’s how easy it is for long time followers of Christ to fake it. However, I know the truth, and so does my Lord.
As a parent it’s hard to go very long without talking to or being in communication with our children. Quick Facebook messages and texts are fun and handy, but nothing takes the place of a nice long chat in person, or a long overdue phone conversation. For those children who live several hours away, a good Skype or FaceTime call works wonders too. Hearing a loved one’s voice and seeing their face brings healing to lonesome hearts.
Spending time with my Father God, and Saviour Jesus, is just as important. I can only imagine how it pains the Lord for us to rush through our time and conversations with Him. Digging into His Word is like a breath of fresh mountain air, and a drink from a cool crystal-clear spring. It brings “life to those who find it, and health to the whole body.” (Prov.4:22) Studying Scripture for myself is like savouring a Thanksgiving Dinner, rather than gobbling a snack to hold me over. Nice little devotionals that take five minutes to read have inspiring thoughts and helpful teaching. However, when I unhurriedly meditate on God’s Word and allow Him to speak directly to me, that’s when I really learn and remember the lessons He has for me. That’s when I grow the most.
God wants to show me through His Word what He has for me in my situation for that day and time, but if I’m racing to finish I’ll miss His lesson and instead carry on in my own wisdom and strength.
“Lord, I don’t want to be ‘like chaff that the wind drives away’. Help me to slow down long enough, and often enough to spend meaningful time with You, so that I may become ‘like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season’.”
Originally Posted on September 9, 2016
Memories come at the most unexpected times, and in the most unexpected places. My husband and I were shopping at our downtown farmer’s market a few months ago. Two musicians playing their cellos in two separate locations were entertaining the shoppers. They were very good and I could tell that they had practiced many hours, and had probably taken lessons from a very skilled instructor. To become proficient with an instrument it takes deep desire, dedication, and hours of practice.
Hearing these musicians brought back many memories. I was reminded of the time when I played my cello and the many hours I had practiced as a child. The school I attended offered each fourth grade student the opportunity to learn to play an instrument. We were all assembled in the auditorium and introduced to many of the instruments that make up an orchestra. Each instrument was demonstrated in turn. When the person playing the cello began, my heart and soul were drawn to its sound and timbre. I decided that day that I wanted to learn to play the cello. I took home the notice from the school that told about the program and asked my parents if I could begin to take lessons. They signed the permission slip and supported me in my decision. We were allowed to bring the instruments home to practice. I remember the first time I held that cello in position. It felt as if the cello belonged there. It felt like the cello and I were one. Over the next few years, as I practiced and gained some skill, I had the joy of making music with others as we played in our junior high school orchestra together. I was chosen to be a part of the district orchestra, and then from that group I was chosen to be part of a smaller ensemble that provided the music for a theatrical presentation of Aladdin at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
I practiced hard, and my parents provided private lessons for me. However, as I moved on in my life new interests became more important to me and my practice time on the cello began to fall by the wayside. Granted, I would take every opportunity I was given to play my instrument, but the concentrated practice times became much less important. I failed to challenge myself to develop my skills, and I depended solely on the beginners’ skills I had learned up to that point.
It has now been decades since I have touched my cello. It’s tucked away in a closet. There are times when I long to play it again, but I think I fear discovering how badly my skills have deteriorated. It is much easier to think back on what was, than to take the time to develop my skills to what could be.
My spiritual journey has the potential to become like my musical journey. If I am not careful, I become complacent and content to depend upon the things I learned when I first realized that I wanted to put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Those truths are still important and essential to living for Jesus. But, as scripture says, they are the milk that is given to newborn babies. Milk is all that newborns are able to digest.
“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (ESV)
“About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:11 - 14 (ESV)
As children grow and develop they are able to digest more complex food. As a person moves into the teenage years and then on into adulthood they begin to eat a wider range of foods and as a result their tastes begin to mature and develop. Soon they are able to appreciate and enjoy many things that would have had no part in their childhood diet.
Developing spiritual discernment is much the same. When we first put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ we are only able to understand the basics of God’s Word. But we need to develop our taste. We are to study and learn the more complex, difficult aspects of scripture. And we need to put into regular practice what we learn. God instructs us to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV).
Each day can be an exciting adventure of leaning more about the God who created me, and the Lord who gave His life for me.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” 2 Peter 3:18a (ESV)
Debi Snider... more