I’ve been reading from “If” by Amy Carmichael off and on recently. It is a convicting little book! There have been several sections that stomped my toes, but one in particular sticks with me. On page 35 Amy writes,
If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
And then as a sort of footnote she adds,
For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.
What is my cup filled with? As I go along my way and something jolts me, do I only spill sweet water?
Sadly, no. If I’m out of my “normal” territory I’m usually more careful; but at home where I’m comfortable? Specifically in the arena of interruptions to my stuff, I can be impatient, even irritable, and brush Matthias (the most likely person to interrupt me) off quickly in order to go back to my own thing. And I don’t like that. I don’t want that to be who I am.
Recently I’ve been seeing more and more that I am not the person I’d hoped I would be by now, and crying out to God to change that. I’ve tried to reform myself and it’s never very effective – and besides, I don’t want to have to mentally imprison myself just to make myself behave. (If you’ve been where I’m at, you know exactly what I mean by that.)
As I was asking God for patience it finally occurred to me – duh, patience is a fruit of the Spirit! My problem isn’t just a lack of patience. My problem is a lack of abiding in the Spirit who manifests Himself in my life through patience, love, joy, etc.
It’s not that I have been skipping time with God altogether, but I haven’t given it as much priority as I should. It started with (probably) depression-induced exhaustion leading me to stop getting up early. I couldn’t (I thought) drag myself out of bed at 5 or even 6:30 anymore. I just needed a little more sleep. I’ve taken up reading my Bible at seven, or after my day has already started, maybe for an hour or so – instead of first thing in the quiet of the dawn/pre-dawn hours. By then my mind has already been over a thousand topics and Matthias is up and about and liable to burst in and want to talk or play in my room. I either have to interrupt my time with God or chase him out, and neither option feels good.
I realize now that the problem isn’t my brother being too free with when he comes into my room (he needs to feel welcomed and loved) – the problem is I gave up taking the time before he’s awake like I used to. So, while I still enjoy my time in God’s presence, it’s not as deep and long as I wish it were, and my ability to focus is impaired.
Clearly I need to make the effort to abide more deeply in God, but on my recent lazy schedule it simply won’t work well. I can’t change Matthias’ needs for attention and love. What I can do is order my day so that his regular needs do not clash with the most important relationship in my life. So last night I set my alarm for 5 AM and when it went off I rolled out of bed despite my body’s complaints. Once I got up I actually didn’t feel too tired. (Ha, and the circles under my eyes were less obvious than usual, ironically enough. Maybe I’ve been sleeping too much.) So, I might lose sleep in the long run. Sometimes I have a hard time going to sleep right away. But having to go to bed early is a small price to pay for deeper intimacy with the great Creator of all things, and it’s spending time in His presence and letting His Spirit fill me that will change who I am.
Here’s to many more precious early mornings, and I hope you’ll all forgive me if I decide to start going to bed at 8:30.
(My song for the day)
Down at Your feet, Oh Lord, is the most high place;
in Your presence, Lord, I seek Your face, I seek your face.
There is no higher calling, no greater honor
than to bow and kneel before Your throne.
I’m amazed at Your glory, embraced by Your mercy,
Oh Lord, I live to worship You.