Vacations, Quiet Times

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Today is my last day in Minnesota this year. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time. Though this vacation can easily end up being more stressful than simply staying at home, I’ve managed to achieve some degree of relaxation. Part of that is definitely from my readiness to be done with Nashville. I’ve also felt my time has been shown greater respect than it has in the past. My mother and grandfather have actually decided to ask for my help on several occasions, rather than just telling me to do something: a small gesture, but a much appreciated one nonetheless.

This property truly is special. Every year, I love coming to see God’s incredible handiwork. Fishing and water sports aren’t particularly my favorite activities, but even those have their time and place. My personal favorite pastime on the island is to wander. With so much unused, unseen land, I can walk out into the woods and see the island as it would have looked when Charles William Taylor first stepped foot ashore. Rocky terrain and dense forest quickly envelop me, removing any sign that a crowded cabin with nagging family lies no more than three hundred feet away. The inland property is my quiet, removed sanctuary. I’d stay there all day and night if it weren’t for poor weather and bloodsucking creatures like mosquitos and ticks.

I’m always confused by my reluctance to resume bible studies. My desire to complete a lesson is sporadic even within one day. I could be satisfied with playing computer games from sun-up to sun-down, and yet as soon as I lay down to sleep at night, my mind explodes with thoughts of how I should have spent my time. The importance and urgency of the Lord’s work weighs heavily on me at night. Why can’t I carry that mindset throughout the whole day? Why is it that even now, as I write this note, I am procrastinating from working on my study of Romans 9? Why do I all-too-often feel like studying scripture is harder than pulling teeth?

Maybe it’s just one of those things that’s hard to start but easy to continue. I would often feel the same way about karate or trumpet lessons as a child. I always hated going to practice, but would soon warm up and fully partake in the activity once I arrived. Is it the same case with my bible studies? Yes. If I bring myself to start working, I will find myself carried away in my studies. As I read and mull over scripture, my parched spirit is rehydrated with living water. But what sane person refuses to drink when they are thirsty? Why is my initial resistance so strong? It is perplexing.

I am both encouraged and discomfited by reading the directly preceding entry. It is encouraging to know that my reluctance to work on lessons is not absolute; there are times when I am eager to know the word of God. Yet, what does it take to churn this desire in me? Last time, it took a fever of 104 and a miraculous healing. Is my faith so shallow? Of course my outburst of praise and thanksgiving was warranted in response to God’s grace, but is God not always deserving of such laud?

This is not a new struggle of mine. Honestly, I’ve never had any structured quiet time or devotional. In the seven years since my commitment to Christ was made, any time I have spent with God has been spontaneous. None of my quiet times or studies have been planned, for better and for worse. Whenever I do sit down and dive into scripture, I sincerely want to do it. In those moments, I choose to read the bible over any number of other things I could do with my free time. Unfortunately, as I have already said, these moments can be and have been few and far between.

I guess it shows a great lack in maturity to be so lax with my relationship with God. While I have no doubt spiritual immaturity is my main flaw here, it is by no means my only flaw. My brain is not wired to follow strict schedules. I’m a Perceiver, not a Judger. It’s not in my character to sit down and plan my week, nor is it like me to establish routines. It’s not like I’ve never tried to do a daily devotional or set aside a specific time each day to read God’s word. In this last school year alone, I have attempted in earnest to establish some sort of regular time with the Lord at least three times to no avail.

Maybe I’m just not cut out for the typical ‘quiet time’. My own brain chemistry seems to war against me. And I have not even begun to discuss how my own sin nature and Satan’s tempting dissuade me from connecting with my Father. It is just so discouraging to think that I can’t even complete one month of a daily devotional book. Do I want to grow in my faith? Absolutely. Do I love exploring the wisdom of God? Certainly. Then why do I fail in my pursuits every time I try?

As I begin to question whether or not it is even worth continuing to try having regular quiet times, I am confronted by the Holy Spirit. There is never harm done in reading God’s word and praying over passages of scripture. When I do remember to have a quiet time, I glorify God. When I forget to have a quiet time, I still glorify God. My failures remind me of my brokenness and point me to my savior. Are we not, as Christians, called to live and work out of our weakness and failures? Is God not made great in our weakness? And will not God delight in our best efforts, no matter how filthy we make our rags? At best, I am reminded of my brokenness and need for Jesus. At worst, I am reminded of my brokenness and need for Jesus. The only option that seems closed to me now is to not try.

Fish tastes pretty good, especially when you catch, clean, and cook it yourself. I think I could go for a nap right now.

It’s strange to think about what I might write in this note next year. I began writing my chapter on love sitting in this exact spot last year. That didn’t really turn out the way I thought it would. I ended up just typing up a completed version of the campaigners I led in the winter of 2013. It worked alright, but it’s not exactly what I thought I would end up doing. Oh well.

Who knows how these next twelve months will go. I’m sure more things will pass in ways tangent to my expectations. How interesting it is to consider the future. That’s all I can do: ponder over what might be. Maybe I should start worrying a little more about the present.

I think I’ll start on that Romans 9 study.

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