A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how encouraged I was that God was directing my Bible study. That was encouraging to me because, in this season of life when I’m sometimes overwhelmed and just plain worn out, I don’t always want to sit and do a quiet time. Just being honest here. But I do want to grow in my relationship with God, and I know that the only way to do that is through His Word. So I’m thankful that God gives me so much of Himself when I get over myself and sit down to get to know Him better through a quiet time.
A couple of years ago I wrote this post describing my favorite way to have a quiet time – reading Scripture and journaling my response and prayer. Lately I’ve spent my quiet time working out of various Bible study workbooks. God has spoken to me through them and I’ve learned a lot, but I’ve gotta say, I’ve been a little disappointed. Something just seemed off. It’s been so confusing to be working on these Bible studies and learning and enjoying the perspectives of these godly women, yet at the same time feeling like I’m sometimes taking a step back in my spiritual growth.
So I’ve done some thinking.
And I’ve come to a conclusion:
I need to be the person that God has created me to be.
Please allow me to explain. When I spend my quiet time strictly in God’s Word and responding to what I read in prayer, it’s an intimate encounter. It’s just Him and me. He teaches me, corrects me, guides me, and just plain loves on me.
When I spend my quiet time working on a Bible study workbook or reading a book by a Christian author, I can still learn a lot. God has taught me, corrected me, guided me, and loved on me in those times. But the encounter isn’t as intimate because I’ve invited another person into my time with God. The message comes to me filtered by the writer’s personality, experiences, and personal biases.
I’ve come to believe that this filter is what has been hindering me. Without realizing it, I have too often allowed a writer’s personality, experiences, and personal biases to mold me into their image. Yes, I am that weak. For example, if I’m reading something by a writer that has an extroverted and peppy personality, I start feeling like I can’t be a “good Christian” unless I become more extroverted and peppy. The thing is, I could be called a lot of things, but extroverted and peppy would not be on the list. On the other hand, if I’m reading something by a writer that has a very serious and introverted personality and not much humor, I start feeling like I can’t be a “good Christian” unless I become more serious and introverted. Well, guess what? I’m already serious and introverted, and God has spent many years teaching me how to smile and relax a bit. So which is it going to be?
It has taken years for me to realize that it’s ok to be me. God created me, formed me with a particular personality, and allowed certain experiences into my life. Yeah, I’ve got stuff I need to work on. My sinful nature grieves me so often. But He’s working on me. I don’t need to try to be like this person or that person. This striving to be something that I’m not will just distract me from the purpose that He has for me.
So I’m going to re-focus my quiet times back on Scripture. I’m sure that I’ll do Bible study workbooks again in the future, and I’ll certainly continue to read books by great Christian writers. But not at the expense of my time alone with God, unfiltered.