(*This post is a re-run of a devotion that originally appeared on this blog in September of 2007. It's a wonderful reminder of how God meets us where we are but loves us too much to leave us there.)
by Karen Keim
Verse of the Week: Psalm 73:28, "But as for me, the nearness of God is my good. I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Thy works."
Okay. So here’s the deal. There’s three things I haven’t been very good at lately: 1) exercising; 2) eating breakfast; and 3) spending some good, quality time with the Lord.
I have good intentions, mind you, to do all three better. But I just can’t seem to get there. Every night when I go to bed, I say to myself, “Now, I’m going to get up an hour earlier tomorrow and go for a walk, eat breakfast and spend some time with the Lord.” Well, guess what! Sleep (that’s spelled S-A-T-A-N) always wins. The alarm goes off that hour early, and I think, “Just 15 more minutes.” (Snooze) “Okay. Just five more minutes.” (Snooze) “Well, it’s getting too late now. I might as well just sleep until my regular time.” (And don’t tell me you haven’t been there, too!)
Well, guess what! This morning I beat satan two out of three!!!! Yea!!! Now, which one of those three do you think I just couldn’t work in? Yep, you’re right! EXERCISE! But I had my egg sandwich (with catsup) and I had some quality time with the Lord. And, boy, did He have some things to tell me!
Here’s how it went.I started out praising him for winning the morning battle, telling Him how awesome He is, read a nice little devotion – you know the routine. Then I picked up my Bible and said, “Lord, speak to me through Your Word today,” and I just popped open my Bible, feeling certain that whatever page I opened to, He would have some plain, simple message for me.
Well, hmfph! I opened to Ezekiel 24, where God is giving Ezekiel the words He wanted him to say to the rebellious nation of Judah. It’s all that symbolic jargon. You know what I’m talking about, the kind where as you’re reading, you think, “Yada, yada, yada, whatever that all means!” I almost gave up on it and said, “Let’s try this again,” and opened to another passage.But I remembered how I had asked Him to speak to me and felt that he had led me to the passage He wanted me to hear, so I kept reading.
I get to the part where God tells Ezekiel that with one blow He’s going to kill the person that Ezekiel loves the most! I’m thinking, “Oh, dear, Lord, is that what you wanted me to hear? Is it my husband? Is it one of my boys?” I read on, and God told Ezekiel that He was making Ezekiel an example to the people of Judah of what he was going to do to them. He said (Ezekiel 24:25, God’s Word translation), “Son of man, on that day I will take their stronghold away from them. It makes them happy and proud. It is their hearts’ desire and the thing they love the most.” In other words, the thing the people of Judah loved the most was getting in the way of their obedience and relationship with God.
Hmmm. “Is that what you wanted to say to me, Lord? What is the thing I love and desire the most? What is the thing You want me to give up before You have to take it away from me so that I will put You first?”I laid my head back and closed my eyes and began to think . . . . is it my husband? Is it my son? Is it this, is it . . . and then all of a sudden, as I am about to drift off into my inner thoughts (okay, fall asleep!), it hits me! My eyes pop wide open and I almost laugh! It’s SLEEP! It’s as simple as sleep!
See, sleep is one of my favorite things to do. I took a survey the other day that asked, if you had an extra hour of time given to you, what would you do, and there were four or five options, like read a book, watch a movie, take a hot bath, or SLEEP! Mine was definitely SLEEP! I don’t know if it’s the empty nest thing going on or just old age, but I just can’t seem to get enough sleep these days. I wasn’t always that way. Sure, I liked my Sunday afternoon naps, but given a choice of doing just about ANYTHING these days, I’ll choose sleep. And I do it well! I NEVER have trouble sleeping. Now, if you are a person who has trouble sleeping at night (like my husband) you know what a blessing it is to be able to sleep without difficulty, and I truly believe it’s a blessing!
But I’ve come to the point where, as I said, I would rather sleep than do almost anything else – including spending time with the Lord! It’s what He calls in this verse “my heart’s desire and the thing they love the most.” It’s what’s getting in the way of me being obedient and connecting with Him in the way He wants me to.
So what’s it going to take, Karen? Are you going to give it up willingly, sacrifice a little extra sleep for a little extra time with the Lord, or is He going to have to take it away from you by removing your blessing of being able to sleep with no trouble?
What about you? Maybe you think I got a little carried away here in analyzing what the Lord was saying. Maybe you’re saying I’m making it too simple, comparing something as BIG as destroying the nation of Judah with something as SMALL as removing my ability to sleep.
But I don’t think so. God’s word meets us where we’re at, and He speaks to us in small, simple ways.
Father, thank you for your patience. Help us to put You first, making YOU and time with YOU “our heart’s desire and the thing we love the most”. We love you so much. In Jesus name, Amen.
Are you listening? Is there something you need to give up willingly so that you can be obedient to what He’s calling you to do? Is there something you need to be sacrificing so that you can spend more time with Him? I promise it will be worth it!
Psalm 143:10, "Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God. Let Thy good Spirit lead me on level ground."(American Standard)
John 10:17, "The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again." (NLT)
Exodus 20:3, "You shall have no other gods before me." (NIV)