My hurdle: quiet time.
I could stop it at this, for I’m beginning to believe that my hurdle is as simple as this, but it would be good for me to delve into the reasons behind this.
A great symptom of the hurdle that I have, but can not see, is my guilt. I am nearly constantly in a state of unworthiness, disappointment and a sense of “not enough”. When I consider the majesty of God Himself and the magnitude of what He had done for me, whatever I am doing in return is not enough. Instead of embracing this idea and being content with it, however, I keep on striving. Since I can never achieve the absolutely unattainable and down-right ridiculous goal of giving back to God to the extent that He had given to me, I am living with a constant sense of failure. And also guilt; that I am not trying hard enough.
I guess I still feel that it is all about me.
Here’s where the quiet time part comes in. Over the past couple weeks, I have looked at my life, trying to find out where this guilt has it’s source. Is it my judgmental attitude toward people? No, I’m pretty much okay with that. I even feel justified sometimes. Is it my arrogance that is causing me to feel so guilty? No. Most the time I forget that I even am arrogant. With very little self-examination, it became clear that the majority of my guilt is coming from my less-than-daily quiet times. I feel like a failing Christian when I do not have a quiet time every day. When I do have my quiet time in the morning, I feel right with God and justified before Him. I even feel like I can talk to Him for the rest of the day. When I think back to a time when I was “doing better than I’ve ever done before”, it was when I had a steady, rhythmic, daily quiet time.
The Quiet Time is sacred to me. It is where I have felt the closest to God. It is where I have received great and life-altering revelations from scripture. It is where I can revel in the beauty of God. It is where the great saints of the past have achieved Oneness with God. It is where the great saints of the present lead you at the end of every sermon or book. It is where my mentors have focused their attention–both on themselves and on me. It is the single most important aspect of a Christians life.
Or is it?
In a video, Francis Chan recently reminded me of John 14.21: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” Often, when I hear or read this verse, my first response is to ask the question, “What are His commands?” This time, however, when I asked this question, there was a command conspicuously absent from my mental list. (Yes, Logan, I even make lists in my head of the commands of God.)
The missing command? Thou shalt have a daily quiet time.
It’s not there. There’s lots of stuff about praying continually and about scripture being our only weapon against the devil. There’s evidence that God uses moments of quiet and solitude to speak to His people. David liked to spend his mornings with God. But he also liked to spend his nights, his meals, his evenings, his days with God as well. No where do I find God giving an explicit command to have a daily quiet time as I know it.
Suddenly, I’m feeling very much betrayed. The saints of the past, the saints of the present, my mentors, even my own words look to me like a Pharisee, standing before his followers saying, “You can only walk six steps on the Sabbath,” or “Wash your hands before you eat,” or “Give God a tenth of your nutmeg.” They are all just commands that, when accomplished, leave you feeling so good before God and yet leave your heart indifferent.
I’m angry. Quiet times had become for me a totally Pharisaical, self-reliant and heartless ritual so that I might attain my goal by human effort.