But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

The streets are quiet and the buildings are empty these days. Everything seems to have slowed down, almost to a halt.

That is, everything by the beating of our hearts.

Uncertainty fills the muted air, and we fear. We fear for our jobs. We fear for our loved ones. We fear that this might last longer and longer.

We wonder. We wonder how long it might be before we can hug our grandparents again. We wonder how this will change the future for our children. We wonder when we will be able to gather with the Church once more.

And I don’t know about you, but without intervention, these fears and wonderings can quickly lead to angst and trembling. I know I am not alone.

I know this not because my friends told me they feel the same thing, though I am sure they do. Not because I see it all over my computer screen, though it is. I know it because Jesus taught about it.

You’re familiar with the verse in Matthew 6, right? The one that says, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25). Maybe you, like me, have been meditating on that verse and verses like it. But maybe, just maybe, in that meditation, God’s word still feels far away. I mean, was it not written two thousand years in the past? Jesus was talking to His disciples. He wasn’t talking about Coronavirus in 2020.

But jump back just a few verses. Check out what leads up to this famous verse:

Matthew 6:19-24

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, [20] but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. [21] For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. [22] “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, [23] but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! [24] “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. 

By our own flesh, uncertainty begets anxiety. When we put our hope in the uncertain things of this world–money, treasures, jobs, and even people–anxiety is sure to follow.

And it’s because we know, deep in our hearts, that those uncertain things do not last. They cannot fulfill us.

So in response to this command, God in the flesh reminds His followers to not be anxious about anything.

Matthew 6:26–32

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? [27] And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? [28] And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, [29] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. [30] But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? [31] Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ [32] For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 

And then He gives them a command:

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Seek first the kingdom of God. 

There is a kingdom to seek. But it does not lie on this earth. It cannot be found in a career or a savings account or even the health of our families.

IMG_4544.JPGIt is only found in Him.

In these dark days where kingdoms are crashing all around us, it is more important than ever to be seeking THE kingdom. The kingdom of God. The kingdom of His righteousness. His kingdom is at hand, as He reminded us a few pages before in Matthew 3:2.

So let us fill the uncertainty with His promises.

Let us dwell on the goodness He has already shown us.

Seeking Him is the way anxiety is overcome. It is the way our trembling might be made into stillness. It is His gift to us that we might have rest in Him.

If there was ever a time to seek Him, it is now. If there was ever a time to rise earlier in the day and spend time in His presence, it is here.

I am writing to you today to encourage you. Quiet time with the Lord is the first way to seek Him. Cracking the pages of the Scriptures must be a necessity. Commune with Him today, oh Christian. Find your own rhythm. Maybe it is just when you wake. Maybe it is when you put your littles down for a nap. Maybe it is before bed. Maybe it is before the sun rises because you have to hurry off to serve the public.

Whatever it is, let it be intentional. In the quiet days, let it be the best time with Him you’ve ever spent. In the busy days, as you are keeping the world running, let it be dense and rich.

In each season, my time with Him looks vastly different. But in my encouragement to you today, I want to share what it looks like in this season.

First, I quit the random Bible verses approach.

To hold myself accountable, I must be intentional. If I am just randomly turning to a page in the Bible without an end in sight, I am all the more tempted to end it that day. Having a plan makes me obliged to opening the Scriptures again the next day and then the day after that.

Next, I found a plan that worked for me.

There are hundreds of Bible reading plans out there. There are some that go straight through the Bible, some that highlight major storylines and passages, some for the New Testament only and pretty much everything in between. You can download apps and find plans everywhere online. The important thing is that you get excited about whichever you choose. Understand that there will be harder days to get through than others. But the genealogies and the laws and the things that are difficult to understand all tell one, beautiful, congruent story.

I also rely on prayer and worship.

Getting my heart in the right place is not something that comes naturally to me. Even though my time with the Lord is the first thing I do when I wake up, the whole day seems to loom above. Before opening to my Bible and reading a passage that I am unlikely to understand, I take some time to focus my heart in and ask God to open my eyes to His Word.

Turning on a worship song and praying through a passage of Psalm 119 is typically my go-to.

I use the Psalms as a guide to pray through whatever I just read.

My current reading plan ends each day with a Psalm. Because the Psalms were written as prayers, why not use them as just that? Rounding out my time with the Lord includes praying and reflecting on what I just consumed. Asking Him to reveal to me what I do not understand. Praying that He will help me remember His words when my heart is bent toward worry.

Finally, I use resources to help when I don’t understand something.

For the most part, my encouragement would be to read the text and pray, asking God for His council before going to outside sources. But they can certainly be helpful, especially when it comes to grasping the context of whatever passage you’re in.

So let us rise early in the morning or retreat into our quiet places late at night to dwell on the kingdom of God. Let us create some semblance of routine lest we neglect to rest in His presence through both trying and triumphant times. He is where our rest is.

In Him, we can put our anxieties on the Almighty.

Though this world may fade, though it may remain riddled with disease and hardship, His kingdom is forever. His reign now.

Despite the noise of this moment in history, let us quiet ourselves in Him.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Below is my quiet time routine of this season pictured and written out in detail. Even in one of the busiest seasons of my life, this is my very favorite routine with the Lord, and I pray I get to continue doing this for the rest of my days.

**And as a disclaimer for those who are working to keep food on our tables, the health care system running, and all the other essential things we need, for those who are coming and going much more than normal, thank you. God is using you so abundantly right now, and I am praying as I write this that God would open up time for you to commune with Him and be filled greatly as you pour out. Please keep reading as I have some thoughts for how you can lean into Him even more, despite potential stressors on schedule and heart.

Getting started: The first intentional thing I do to make sure I get in ample time with the Lord is wake up. We are finally in a season when I know that Eden will be awake at a certain time. That means, I have to be up about an hour before she is. I rely on Holy Spirit + coffee to wake me up and dive into the Word.

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Focusing my heart: It’s pretty hard for me to wake up, roll out of bed and into the book of Deuteronomy (or really, anything in the Bible. It’s all ancient text.) I have to ask God to center my heart. So I typically head to Spotify, turn on a single worship song, open my Bible to Psalm 119, and pray. I like to write my prayers down so that I cannot get distracted.

Reading Scripture: I am personally using the Read Scripture app as my Bible Reading plan. This is an app that takes readers directly through God’s Word and then ends each day with a Psalm. I open the app, check out what I should be reading, then jump into the Bible.

One thing I love about this plan is the videos it provides throughout the plan. The app was created by the Bible Project, a non-profit that puts out Bible literacy videos. Before starting a new book, there is always a video that explains the context and theme of the book. This has really aided me in understand what I am reading, why it was written to its specific audience, and how it fits into the one, congruent story of Jesus.Screen%20Shot%202020-03-31%20at%2011.39.30%20AM 2.JPG

I spend some time praying over what I just read afterward, asking God to reveal His word to me and help me understand the things I do not.

Learning even more: After I have read and prayed on my own, I go to the podcast, “The Bible Recap”. This podcast goes by its own reading plan, but it is pretty similar to the plan I am currently using. I scroll to whatever podcasts fits most closely to my reading that day.

Y’all. I LOVE this podcast. Each one is only about five to nine minutes. The host, Tara Leigh, simply recaps what happened, but she helps listeners understand the context and decipher what we may not culturally understand. Then, every day, she reveals what her “God shot” is, or where she saw God’s character on display. Listening has helped me look for snippets of God’s character in every verse of every chapter I read. It has reminded me how truly consistent He is.

Reflecting through prayer: My final step is such a little luxury right now. I go outside, stretch, and pray through one Psalm each day. Screen%20Shot%202020-03-31%20at%2011.39.47%20AM 2.JPG

I have recently discovered the Dwell app. It is an audio Bible app that reads the Bible in different voices, translations, and with music playing in the background. I open a Psalm, sit on my mat, stretch, and let the Psalm of that wash over me. I set the app up to repeat that Psalm over and over again and play music for a while in between so that I can pray out loud to what I just heard.

And that’s my quiet time! By the time I finish, Eden is awake and ready for some cuddles and some milk.

My prayer is that God will continue to develop this time as He grows me. I feel like I have learned so much about Him this year, and I know I have spent more time in consistent prayer than ever before. 

ScreenShot2020-03-31at11.40.26AM 2I don’t show this to say this is how anyone has to do it, but to remind that our quiet times can flow along with our current season. As a mom to a ten month old, I have to be done by the time she wakes up, which means waking up a little earlier and having to vigorously fight checking on her in the monitor like a mad woman. The order and practices I am using are what my heart needs in this season. What does your heart need? I want to challenge you to stretch out your time with the Lord through this period of isolation, if at all possible. Let this be an opportunity to have the quiet time of which you’ve always dreamt.

What does your quiet time look like in this season? Comment and let me know! 

 

 

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