During the last four months of 2015 I carried around a weight I’ll call “Bible-Study-Loser Guilt.” I could just as easily call it “Not-So-Good Christian Girl Guilt.” You see I lead a church ministry, and speak to women’s groups about their walk with Christ, yet for months I was guilty of ignoring my own advise and not walking my own talk. After 7 years of waking up at 5:30 a.m. to pray and study scripture for an hour before my family woke, I was hitting the snooze button. When I did wake up I sat in my living room drinking coffee and staring at the wall with my unread Bible open on my lap.
As the weeks went by, I felt a crushing sense of guilt. I felt that I had let down my friend, and Savior, Jesus by snoozing through our time together, or showing up and very honestly, not caring too much what He had to say. I had Bible-study-loser guilt and it was driving me away from God.
A few weeks before Christmas our church sent home a family devotion kit. One of the activities was to make an ornament by filling a clear ball with strips of colorful paper, each paper carrying a prayer for the coming year from the members of your family. I wrote on my paper, “A renewed walk with God.” I confessed to my husband and daughters that I was in a very quiet season with the Lord and I felt badly about it. I wanted to renew my walk, but honestly I just felt so tired. Surprisingly my 13-year-old Sarah started to smile when I shared my prayer request. It was not a sympathetic smile, but a big, full-faced beaming smile! I was puzzled.
On Christmas morning Sarah could barely wait to give me my gift. It was a single column journaling bible and a beautiful set of colored pencils and chalks. She attached a note saying she hoped this would be “helpful to my 2016 goals.” What a gift!
The Lord has used this gift to whisper something new to me. Over the last three months those colored pencils and chalks have called to me. It hasn’t always been at 5:30 in the morning, but rather sometimes on a rare quiet afternoon, on an airplane ride, on a snow day or even on a “tornado day” last week. I have picked up my colored pencils and allowed the Lord to speak through a very slow-paced study of His Word as I draw, doodle and create with the Creator.
This passage from The Jesus Storybook Bible has been echoing in my heart as I draw:
“You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children – with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. And though they would forget him, and run from him, deep in their hearts, God’s children would miss him always, and long for him – lost children yearning for their home. “
In those hours and moments with pencils in hand, God has whispered, “this is okay too,” and I have been able to lay down my guilt and lift my face to my Savior again. You see, over the last seven years I had come to place my great, big, awesome God in a very small box – a box of my own creating. A box that said “good Christian girls wake very early in the morning and spend X amount of time studying God’s Word in X way.” What a horrible lie. The formula of waking early and studying the Word through fill-in-the-blank Bible studies was beneficial to my soul and faith for a season of my life. But my season has changed, and I had not trusted God to be big enough to have a new plan ready for me. In the last four years I have gone from stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, to working 50+ hours a week. In this season, I am tired, and filling in the blanks of a Bible study when I really need to be sleeping was not a joy. It had become a burden, and my guilt over that realization drove me from God.
I know I’m not alone in experiencing “Bible-Study-Loser Guilt.” Maybe you are feeling it to? Scripture tells us we have a God who has revealed Himself to man through a cloud, a fire, a talking donkey, a dove, a quiet wind and so much more. In fact, in several places it says the whole earth is full of the glory of the Lord. Why then do we allow ourselves to feel guilty if in this season of our life God is not speaking to us in one particular way? Your church may be full of Bible study offerings that are not for you right now. Maybe God would like to talk with you as you walk alone in your neighborhood. Your friends may all love that latest Christian best-seller, but for you God wants to talk with you through music. God loves you. You. He has a plan for you that doesn’t need to be confined to the last season of your life, or the season your best friends are in. So pick up your colored pencils, or your running shoes, your guitar or your garden spade and lay down your guilt, because God is waiting to meet with you. God is our Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Loving Father, and he doesn’t need a certain time, study, or setting to show you that.
Wendy Anderson Shulz
*At Missional Motherhood we believe the Bible is the primary way God has chosen to speak to us. In the day in which we are raising our families, we must know God’s Word and allow it to shape the way we think and live. While nothing can adequately replace time spent in scripture and prayer, we know we all face seasons that can potentially push us away from our time with God. We hope today’s post by Wendy will encourage you if you find yourself in the middle of one of those seasons. We pray that God’s grace and “never stopping” love will draw you into His presence today in a new and fresh way!
Please leave your thoughts and comments below! How do you find times of refreshment when your walk with God feels dry?