Before I was married and prior to having kids, I was great at doing my devotions. Living in Seattle, I would just grab my Bible and journal and head to one of my little spots in the city.
Typically, I’d walk to my favorite coffee house or the charmingly quaint private garden built for the neighborhood to enjoy. Sometimes I’d even take the ferry across to the San Juan islands just to delight in some time alone with The Lord.
In all, enjoying time with God was pretty easy.
My quiet time and Bible reading fell to the wayside for a long stint, as I could barely cope with life having a six-month old and being pregnant again.
Then suddenly I had a 1 year old and an infant. Shortly after, I had a 3 year old, a 2 year old, and a very malnourished and sick 5 month old. And then we added a 6 year old (who spoke no English) into the mix.
Just when I thought it’d get easier, life instead swelled to where the word "busy" screamed euphemism.
I remember one afternoon, collapsing onto the floor in the kitchen, bursting into tears. As I sat there on the cold tile floor holding baby Imani, Anton and Laith began crawling onto my lap. Their sticky toddler-hands stained my sundress as they snuggled close, trying to comfort their overwhelmed and drowning Mama. Ezekiel, still new to our family and overwhelmed himself, stared with wide eyes in complete bewilderment.
As I sobbed there on the floor, being cared for by my precious preschool-aged children, God gave me a single word: "firstfruits."
I continued to cry out to Him.
I searched, confused. Help me understand what You mean, Lord!
I knew that firstfruits are offerings of the first and best crops to God, which is often spoken about in the Old Testament. An offering given in acknowledgment of God’s abundant blessing.
Definitely not giving Him what is left over, but rather giving Him the best of the best...first.
What was I giving Him? The leftovers.
The leftovers of my time, my energy, and my heart.
He was reminding me the need of putting Him first. Above everything. Though I was going to Bible study every week, I wasn't really spending time with Him. My quiet-time, my devotions, my reading of the Bible and prayer time...it was sporadic and hurried.
I was being tossed like a ship in a storm. I felt alone and overwhelmed. I was exhausted by the challenges in our newly adopted six-year-old's behavior, his hurt now clearly at the surface. I knew nothing could separate me from the Lord, that He was stronger and more powerful than this storm, but I was lost in the waves and the wind.
What I realized that day though, is I needed to have right prospective of Him. I needed to lean into Him and live with a Him-first mentality.
I felt an urgency to be bold in prayer, no matter how exhausted I felt.
I needed...No, I had to take the time for Him or there would be nothing of me left, I would indeed sink in this storm I felt I was in.
I was encouraged that joining with Him in giving my firstfruits would not only help me keep my head above water, but also become an unconquerable force for the Lord, as well as for our family.
Well, I didn’t have a lamb or crops to give, but I certainly had my firstfruits of time. At that point however, I simply couldn’t get up any earlier. I was so sleep-deprived and exhausted from Imani waking multiple times a night, that there was no way. NO WAY. I could get up earlier.
I felt the Lord direct me, urging to give my firstfruits during naptime. Rather than scurrying through the house cleaning up, doing laundry, and that ever constant stream of dishes, I was called to FIRST sit and be with Him. Then do my tasks AFTER.
I don't mean to say that life became sunny all the time, but it was suddenly manageable. My attitude was better, I had a full grasp on things.
Jesus loved me back to life.
My season changed.
Somehow the Lord was multiplying my time, I had more strength, could run further in the day-to-day tasks, my presence and patience with our children was fuller, more attentive, and loving.
And through it all, I confidently leaned on Him, knowing it was in His power, not my own that was getting it done.
Several years later, I felt God's urging once again. Steering me toward waking earlier and spending time with Him then instead (since everyone's sleeping patterns were finally secured), I began setting my alarm for 5am.
People seem rather shocked that I rise several hours before my children. Assuming I’m some sort of crazy Morning Person, they always announce to me, “oh I could neeeever do that. I’m just too tired. I need my sleep.”
Oh if you only knew! I want to tell them.
I so struggle getting up in the morning. Ben says I’m just like the kids…exhausted in the evening yet forced to actually crawl into bed. I want to stay up! I don’t know why. I’m just a Night Person, and always have been.
So when my alarm chimes, I desire to cozy even deeper into my blankets and enjoy the warmth of my bed.
Get up! Get up, I urge myself!!
Grab your Bible & make a coffee…go!! I tell myself as I convince my sleepy body to push back the covers.
My day is genuinely so much better once I’ve started my day in The Word & in prayer. My attitude is better, I’m more focused, more joyful, less likely to snap at my kids and husband.
So what do I do?
I’ve found that if I’m not going through some sort of actual study, and just flip through the Bible, reading…I'm not feeling connected and pressed in tightly with the Father. Almost as if it's a waste of both of our times.
Luckily, there are SO many great daily studies these days.
My mind often races, full of the things I need to do, groceries I need to buy, and ideas I want to move forward on. So I’ve learned to have a journal next to me.
Once I quickly scribble down whatever it is that’s rattling through my brain, keeping me from truly being able to concentrate, I can move on and move closer in my time with my Lord.
So here I sit, every morning…all wrapped up in my cozy pink blanket, ready to start yet another day with Him as my Firstfruit.
Just remember that it’s constant practice.
Figure realistic goals for your quiet time – whether in the morning, or whenever the Lord is leading you to do it.
Just like piano lessons as a child, it takes practice my sweet friend.
Practice will make it easier…not perfect, only He can do that.