3 Ways to ‘Quiet Time’ with God in 2021

Let’s be honest.

At the end of a long day, sometimes the last thing we want to do is read the Bible. As we exchange fatigue for refreshment in labor’s wake, we often chill and defrag on our own terms…

…be it sunset walks. Exercise. Fireplace reads. Hot baths. Netflix. YouTube. I could go on… 

Yet, while these options are appropriate at the proper times, per recent conviction, I’m concerned many of us have detached the Scriptures from this menu of items. And while I’m sure many of us understand the importance of meditation and prayer, as I’ll discuss in this post, we do our faith a disservice when we compartmentalize such sustenance from the rest we crave.

Accordingly, as a fellow bivocational hustler who’s regularly on the go, here are three ways we can engage quiet time with God in 2021. 

1. Refresh Your Gameplan

In seasons of spiritual distancing, consistency in the Word can be a struggle. Knowing where to turn, where to start, where to continue…the lack of compass in general can be enough to deter a Scriptural encounter. Yet, while many resources will tell you how finding a quality Bible reading program will stabilize your faith, truth is: Life is less black and white and far more unpredictable than we think.

Dare I remind us: Overtime. Trainings. Meetings. Zoom calls. Traffic. Extracurricular small groups. Midweek church services. Educational endeavors. Benevolence/outreach opportunities. Family emergencies. Health issues. 

No question each day is full of life as well as nuisance and troubleshooting. Still, within the snowflake tapestry of each day are rhythmic stretches where we can find silence and rest. They may not be long; heck, they may be fifteen minutes or less. Regardless of duration, dare to pray not only about the Bible reading plans God has for you, but also what tactical gameplans He wants to refresh as well.

As I learned last year, often God will refresh His intimacy with a new chapter as opposed to restarting it with a blank slate. Granted, it doesn’t have to be one or the other; sometimes a blank slate is a necessary predecessor to the ‘next’ God has for us. That said, don’t assume the answer to your quiet time strategy is something new and don’t strive for a Bible reading plan because it’s conventional. Rather seek the Lord and draw near. Inquire His plans and purposes concerning your engagement and understand God is after your heart more than your time. Remember while a sacrifice of praise is often a sacrifice of time for us, in God’s eyes, refreshing our gameplan can be the jumpstart we need to know we don’t have to carve out what He’s already gifted. 

Bottom line: Before you prematurely dive into research, press into God’s heart and allow Him to reveal the pathways of discernment you’re to walk. 

For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.

Luke 21:15 (ESV)

2. Bookend Your Day

They say each day is a journey, a quest for orientation amidst a jungle of chaos. As we all know, the ride can be turbulent, testing, sometimes downright fierce.

But again, no matter no how busy the calendar, how intense the load, there’s always room for God. And while the world says you have no room, you have no time, consider the fact this is how Jesus entered our humanity.

As John 1:14 declares, Christ is the Word become flesh. He lived among us so we could experience His glory as God’s Son full of grace, truth, wisdom, and understanding.

This tells me two things:

  1. Jesus not only came to save us as a one-time ticket to heaven but to continually draw us as ambassadors for heaven. As co-heirs with Christ, we were made for consistent fellowship with Him – a perpetual reality we should never take lightly.
  2. Just as we were formed by God’s words, so are we fashioned by His daily Word. As sons with a promise, we were made to discover joy through justification (restoration) and sanctification (refinement); however, one must wonder if the process of the latter can mature without consistent quiet time with God.

Whatever the case, may we be a people united in fixing our minds on what is right, our hearts on what is godly, and our discipline on what is everlasting. While God’s instruction may seem repetitive, understand the application is always unique to your calling and situation. Even when the days are dull, there’s never a dull moment in God’s presence given His sovereignty and encouragement are endless and always near.

Consider this: If our aim is to become more like Jesus, we must value exposure to His promises and purposes. Since His ways are perfect and infinitely higher than our own, it makes no sense to reach in God’s direction if our desperation isn’t rooted in intentionality. As long as we approach the Lord with humility, we can rest assured He will provide the blueprints for sustained Spirit-filled and Spirit-controlled life (see Ephesians 5; more on this in a future post).

Bottom line: For Jesus to be our daily bread, the Word must also be daily read. All the more reason to bookend each day in the truth of who God is. 

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” ~ Matthew 6:33 (ESV)

I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” ~ Psalm 77:12 (ESV)

The [Word] shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” ~ Joshua 1:8 (ESV)

3. Bookmark Your Inspiration

As simple as it sounds, one of the best ways to reference God is to set altars of gratitude at our places of influence. By altars I not only mean emblems with Scriptural citations but any physical prompt directing you to worship. For instance, you could have a picture frame, a poster, a small shelf of books at your desk…honestly the possibilities are endless. Whatever methods you employ, the point is not the system you facilitate but the heart of worship you propitiate. 

Consider the reason you work:

As Kingdom agents, your occupations and vocations are your appointed mission fields. While the hustle can be exhausting, remember your goals are subsets of your purpose: To reflect heaven and earth and to shine God’s countenance wherever you go.

Hence, why we should bookmark our inspiration and prepare our hearts to recall and call on God’s faithfulness as we effort for His glory. After all, who knows what kind of innovation and illumination awaits as we rely on Jesus who by His Spirit has given everything we need for goodness and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). 

Bottom line: To worship as you work is to anchor your devotion. Therefore, posture your heart and its surroundings to give pleasure to God. 

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Colossians 3:16 (ESV)

Selah.

Cover photo creds: Mike Turner

A Brewed Awakening

Written 11/6/14; revised 3/13/21

We’ve all been there.

  • The crave for caffeinated fulfillment…
  • The mid-afternoon coffee rush…
  • The anticipation of steeped goodness igniting the day’s doldrums…

When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing how a demitasse of brewed bliss with its steamed satisfaction can affect a day’s course. Unfortunately, as this story will prove, not every pitstop can be so rewarding.

Let’s set the scene: It’s a chilly November afternoon when some colleagues and I decide to mosey down to a local Starbucks to take advantage of a ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ holiday drink special. As we approach the main entrance, we notice the coffeeshop is highly congested with a line extending outside into the brutal cold. Having experienced this location’s awkward floor plan, I guide my group to the store’s second entrance¹ and recalibrate the line as a courtesy for our fellow coffee connoisseurs.

That’s when our move is misinterpreted by an older, alternative version of “mean girls”.   

PshWe were here first,” cried the alpha.
Yeah, we were definitely here before you guys,” said another.
Oh, yeahI know. It’s just the line usually starts back here in the mornings
,” I replied. “I wasn’t…”
Well, it starts right here today! So…move aside.”

At this point, my inner Madea is activated.

These cranks are going to brew the day, I think to myself. Whoever these catty Katie’s are, they’re gonna regret bating this bulldog. A few snarky pelts later and I’m internal inches from summoning Seal Team Six, which on this day, is inspired by this modified scene from Disney’s Brink:

After all, it’s not like I’m the one spewing assumptions accusing a complete stranger as if his character could be so easily appraised. *Sigh*

But it’s at this point when something surreal begins to happen. While my flesh desperately wants to bless these women with a brick, somehow, someway I begin to cool off. Call it the frigid air offsetting my red-hot interior. Call it the still, stunned silence working its charm. Whatever the case, I realize the best foot forward is to…

Suddenly, my inner Taylor Swift starts jiving with the Spirit in the moment…

… knowing though these haters gonna hate, hate, hate and berate, berate, berate, I don’t have to deflate, deflate, deflate. Rather Christ in me, I can shake, shake, shake it off! Shake it off! And from there, perceive the situation for what it’s worth and the people around me for what they’re worth.

Consider the following verses and how they relate to this song:

“…as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:18 (ESV)

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” ~ Romans 8:18 (ESV)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” ~ Romans 8:37 (ESV)

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)

While we can’t control the cheats of the world or the biases of our accusers, we can turn the other cheek in faith knowing our dignity, security, and identity are in Christ. Accordingly, we don’t need to prove our intentions through self-seeking agenda when we can rest in the Father’s arms (holiday expresso in hand) knowing He’s our solution and resolution in times of distress.

Think of it this way: If our dependence is aligned, not only can we trust God in confronting our humanity but also in subduing our thirst for revenge. Even when others spit in the mud in our direction, God can still use it to open our eyes to His purposes and perspectives.

Hence, why this post exists: To remind us how the slights of man can lead to sights of God we never thought possible (more on this in a future post).

As for the moral of this story, regardless if Taylor Swift had Matthew 5:39 in mind when she wrote her acclaimed hit, don’t underestimate the value of the left cheek. Especially when you feel your values are violated, keep your heart pure, ears attuned, and hands free. In this way, you can hold onto your coffee and pour out a cup of the life you have inside you simultaneously.

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. Signature of a downtown Starbucks

Cover photos creds: HD Wallpapers

Cries and Shine: Why God’s Joy Comes in the Mourning

So lately, I’ve been thinking…

In seasons of sadness, processing emotions can be complicated. As we declutter the soul, we sometimes stumble upon excess baggage, unmet expectations, even hidden motives we didn’t know where there; however, I also think part of the struggle concerns how we compartmentalize grief from its holy accompaniments.

For instance, many published works will tell you there’s joy to be found after sorrow, godly remorse, death, you name it. But filtered through the Scriptures, we find a different picture. More specifically, we don’t grieve to find joy but grieve with joy to find God and what He’s saying.

On the surface, this can seem like a paradox: How can a heart be at peace and rest in the midst of great pain?

Well, it depends on how your faith intersects its prepositions. If you believe you persevere to something good, be it a better outcome, a finish line, etc., chances are you’ll rush, perhaps force the virtue through coping mechanisms. Conversely, if you believe you persevere through something good, be it courage, humility, thanksgiving, and joy, chances are you’ll discover and uncover profound wisdoms once foreign.

Consider Psalm 30:11:

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness…”

When the Psalmist says “you have turned my mourning into dancing“, he’s not implying a complete substitution but embracing the two as co-existent. Per his next line – “You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness” – the implication is not an eradication of suffering but a reorientation to the Spirit of God upon Him. Accordingly, the man once burdened by his surroundings can now take delight amidst a lifting load given his focus in more vertical than horizontal.

This tells me two things:

  1. Finding joy in grief starts by experiencing God on the road to recalibration.
  2. Finding joy in grief allows us to walk in freedom and share what God is doing simultaneously.

Can grief be turned into joy (John 16:20)? Absolutely! However, rather than itemizing the two, consider the bridge of comfort in between as a path to the glory that is His and the victory that is yours. From there, keep the oil of jubilation (Isaiah 61:1-3) handy and distribute as needed. After all, even in death and turmoil, there’s a favorable year of the Lord to proclaim. Might as well keep dancing.

Selah.

Cover photo creds: Pinterest