One more week until we start talking about Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift a Christmas devotional and our first book. I love talking about books and am eager for next week (but also want to soak in this week, know what I mean?).
Here’s the schedule for the next four Tuesdays:
December 3rd: have read December 1-3
December 10th: have read December 4-10
December 17th: have read December 11-17
December 24th: have read December 8-24 (maybe the 25th if you just can’t wait!)
And if you don’t have the book, don’t let that hold you back from reading the posts and comments and joining. All are welcome!
In preparation for reading and discussing a devotional, let’s talk about devotionals. The idea of having devotional material, quiet time, QT, whatever you want to call it, was introduced to me in high school. Wait, back up. Actually it was in summer camp. After breakfast we campers were sent with our Bibles, a writing utensil and a booklet out into the woods to find a space alone with God.
As alone as you can be with 100+ girls around you and people vying over patches of sunshine in the chilly mornings.
But it was summer camp that the idea was introduced and modeled and practiced. Later in the day we’d gather in cabins and do a Bible study based on what we’d read.
As a high school gradation present my youth leader gave each of us a copy of My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers and I remember each of us flipping through the pages to see what Oswald/God had to say to us on our birthday.
And here I’m not sure how to segue into a confession. Even though I come from solid devotional stock and have been given devotionals, they don’t work for me. I’ve tried. You would think they would, given that I am a fairly disciplined person and a devoted reader. But nope.
One of the many things I love about God is that he’s relational and has many paths for relating with him. What works for me, my personality, stage of life, and feeds my soul (instead of being a task to be checked off on a list) is this. I’ve got the One Year Chronological Bible NLT both in physical book and on my kindle for traveling and I daily read in it. After I finish reading the selection for the day, I’ll read in another book that nudges, encourages, prods me along.
Right now I’m reading A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman. This year I’ve also read The Art of Dying: Living Fully Into the Life to Come by Rob Moll, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan, Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up with a Christian Drunk by Heather Harpham Kopp. You can see I’m a bit all over — but that’s what makes it work for me. I know that I need variety and wrestling with reality (dying, resting/ceasing, addictions, hello life!).
Now you may not be a reader and so instead of this approach feeding your soul, it feels like an albatross around your neck. I don’t think it’s the package so much that God is after, but the practice. The practice of connecting to Him, to ourselves, and to our world through regular contact.
And it will change and morph over time. If you’ve got little kids, you probably do not have time for lots of outside reading and music might play a bigger role. Or maybe you live in a big, loud, dirty city which makes getting into nature a challenge. You also might be in the valley of the shadow of death and your brain cannot process long chunks of information. God knows, God sees, God doesn’t care what form it takes because he loves you.
How about you? What helps you stay connected to God? How do you see your personality, stage of life, and interests influencing factoring in? And if you are a devotional reader, what suggestions do you have for us?
See you in the comments! Amy