First, don’t let guilt over doing something “imperfectly” stop you from doing it altogether.
You need to spend more time talking with Me. The thought wouldn’t leave me alone. “I know, God,” I huffed, “but I’m so busy now.” Moving to Korea meant that my life looked vastly different from the long, slow days I had enjoyed the previous year while I was still job hunting. Adjusting to a new culture and job, plus getting involved in my local church and community, gave me many things to juggle. I didn’t have the luxury of hours to read, pray, and journal as I did before.
Consequently, my devotional life became shakier. I would give more time to God when I had something to do for church, but there were so many other things requiring my immediate attention. “I’m doing mission!” I reasoned. “I’m busy working for You, God!” But I knew working for God is not the same as spending time with Him. God kept tugging at my heart. I needed to connect with Him more in my daily life, not just when I had to be up front in church.
My devotional life isn’t quite what I want yet, but I’ve been learning two key lessons during this season. First, don’t let guilt over doing something “imperfectly” stop you from doing it altogether. For example, I’ve always heard that devotional time should be in the morning. Because I found myself exhausted and rushed in the mornings—hardly my best time to give to God—I started to skip devotions because I couldn’t do it as it “should” be done. Of course, that didn’t help my spiritual life. I believe that God would rather us spend imperfect, distracted time with Him than no time at all. As we communicate with Him, we will grow, however slowly, in our ability to concentrate, and our appetite for Him will increase.
The second lesson is that quality is more important than quantity. Ellen White comments, “One passage studied until its significance is clear to the mind and its relation to the plan of salvation is evident, is of more value than the perusal of many chapters with no purpose in view and no positive instruction gained.”1 I realized that I easily lost focus if I tried to read a lot in the morning just to check the “devotional duty” box. So instead, I started using an app to listen to a Bible passage along with some questions and commentary to meditate on. It was just 10 minutes long, but rich and deep. Sometimes I found myself stopped by a single verse or thought. One morning this simple phrase arrested my attention: “I choose to rejoice in God’s attentive care today.” The words stuck with me throughout the day, as I found my thoughts drifting to consider the personal attentiveness of God toward me and what it meant to choose to rejoice. Meditating on that one phrase, and its accompanying Bible passage, did me more good than simply ticking off a number of chapters.
Perhaps you are also finding it more challenging to spend time with God than you used to. Maybe your life looks different these days, and you have more responsibilities than before. If so, please don’t give up on your devotional life altogether, no matter what else calls for your attention. God wants to be with you, however messy and imperfect that time might sometimes feel.
I am encouraged by these words from the psalmist: “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming’ ” (Ps. 27:8, NLT).2
1 Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1956), p. 90.
2 Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.