*Author’s note: This post was scheduled to go live today and, ironically, this is the verse of the day on YouVersion! Also, our morning began in chaos and I certainly needed to be reminded to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances! God is so, so sovereign and He cares about even the little things in our lives! I pray that you know that truth today!
Once upon a time, I would willingly wake up before sunrise, roll out of bed, follow the scent of coffee into the kitchen, pour a cup, and, enveloped in silence, collapse on the couch with Bible in hand for an hour or so before getting ready for work. I had complete control over my mornings, the volume in my home, the amount of piping hot coffee I drank, and the number of blankets I snuggled under before facing the outside world. I could spend copious amounts of time on Bible studies, reading books, studying Scripture, and journaling. I didn’t always do this, but the option was there and often I grabbed hold of the opportunity.
And then, one day, I became a mom. Being a mom is my single greatest earthly privilege and, while I would not trade it for anything, the perception of control over my life (and actual control over my mornings!) vanished in its wake. Gone were the days of choosing my wake-up time, drinking hot coffee, and having the freedom to sit for leisurely blocks of uninterrupted solitude. Suddenly, a tiny little human awoke at unpredictable hours of the morning and needed to be fed, changed, held, played with, and loved. I now understood why the moms in my Bible study arrived each week with half-completed lessons and tired eyes. My time in silence and in the Word began to occur during 2am feedings (thanks to SheReadsTruth!) and my coffee was enjoyed lukewarm while packing lunches, bottles, and diapers a few short hours later.
Eventually, as my son grew older, (and with the help of an Ok to Wake Clock) my mornings settled back into a shadow of what they had been pre-kids. I never regained the large chunks of time, but there was, at minimum, a chance to enjoy half a cup of coffee while it was hot and to read a few verses in silence. And then I had my second kid and all bets were off again. This time around, I did not even have the amount of brain power required to read a devotional during a 2am feeding, or at any other part of the day for that matter. At the same time though, my soul was starving for Truth, for Jesus, for quiet, for refreshment. I just wasn’t sure how to grab ahold of it in this stage of life.
I don’t know exactly when (because #mombrain), but at some point in the haze of the newborn days, I began considering the verse in I Thessalonians that says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thess 5:16-18). This verse had once seemed so challenging and impossible to me, but now, in this stage of life, it felt like a heaping dose of freedom. There it was, written out as though just for me: God’s will is to abide in him minute by minute, rejoicing, thanking, and praying. It is to connect with Him in the midst of the chaos and sleep-deprivation. There are not walls or borders and there are no special mugs or throw pillows needed (though I do love my mugs!). All that is required is a tuning of my heart to the reality of His presence, and a willingness to embrace little bursts of gratitude, petition, and praise throughout the day.
Perhaps this is a realization you’ve arrived at already, but for a control-freak, type-A, list-maker like myself, this did not come naturally. In fact, it sort of felt like cheating! There were times I would think, “Does this really count as prayer? Does pausing while I’m making dinner and praying with my toddler actually bring me into the presence of God?” If I am completely honest, it simply did not feel as holy to me (which is, of course, entirely counter to the word of God). But here’s the amazing thing: These small moments of obedience slowly began to feed my dry, weary, tired, and worn out soul. Little by little, life was brought back and joy returned. Eventually, practicing praise, thankfulness, and prayer while driving, feeding, and playing with little kids became almost second nature and it changed me.
At the risk of being misunderstood, I will say that I still believe it is important to be intentional about fighting for undisturbed time alone with God. Time where we can really dig into Scripture and pray, and be still. By doing this, we are fortified with a solid foundation when seasons of our life happen where that kind of focussed time may only come once or twice a month. When we find ourselves in these times, I pray that we are able to cling to Paul’s words in this verse. I pray that this command would not feel burdensome but would feel like freedom to our souls. I pray that we would trust that His presence is ever with us and that, through the Holy Spirit, we have access to Him 24/7. Most of all, I pray against the lie that daily, continual communion with God in the middle of the chaos and the mundane is not good enough or holy enough. The Bible commands it, as we see, so this simply cannot be the case. Instead, it seems that Jesus longs to meet us in our ordinary, sleep-deprived, hustle and bustle days that are filled with crustless sandwiches, juice boxes, and pre-school drop-offs, if we will but let Him into those spaces. This is amazing news!
Let’s carry on, friends, singing songs of praise that our God is strong, offering thanksgiving for the spilled milk and smashed peas, and being faithful in prayer for all those that we may encounter this day. He is with us, He is for us, and that alone is worth rejoicing in all of the time.
Lettering image by Sarah Boulware of @letterseed. Isn’t it beautiful?!