Last Thursday was my last day of the Spiritual Formation class (no final). This past week I’ve been thinking back on ways that it has impacted me and the progression throughout the semester. I wasn’t great at keeping up with the assignments, and I quickly came to realize I will not be taking any future classes for credit. However, mentally and emotionally I did purpose to really apply what we were covering in class (and in what reading I did complete).
One of the biggest impacts was on my “quiet time”. For those who may not know “quiet time” is typically the phrase used to describe a daily practice of bible study, meditation, prayer &/or private worship. When we first got here I had about 6-9months prior started having a real, regular, ‘productive’ quiet time for the first time in my Christian life. It was not EVERY morning, but almost. It had been amazing and for the first time I was REALLY studying the scriptures. Sometime in the beginning of the semester as Dr. Childers was doing a bit of “desconstruction” to further enable us to really see the poor condition of our hearts (thus leading us to cling more deeply to Christ and the work he did for us on the Cross) he said the following, “Quiet times are usually very harmful to the spiritual development of most Christians”. Then later on the class online forum the following questions: Do you think MOST Christians are either: 1) Living in guilt re; their lack of Quiet Times or 2) Feeling self-righteous re: their consistent Quiet Times? Where are you on this continuum?
We talked about how when we have regular quiet times we feel ‘good’ and are more likely to acknowledge God throughout the day and are confident in our standing with Him. Then on the flip side that when we are NOT consistent &/or it is a ‘boring struggle’ we feel distant from God and feel we have fallen out of favor with Him.
It occurred to me I absolutely rode that merry-go-round. At the time I was absolutely high-rolling with self-righteousness…thinking I had been offering this ‘amazing sacrifice’ to God every morning. Now, it wasn’t quite that literal and surface, but when I boiled it down, this was my logic. “QT” mornings = good day b/c God loved me. Non QT mornings = bad day b/c I was then ‘left to my own devices’.
It had become an old testament style sacrificial system. I had been struck deeply of the vision of myself placing this QT on an altar in payment for my sin….and God being disgusted with the aroma of these filthy rags (Is. 64:6). And I fled. So for the past few months I have BASICALLY had no quiet time.
In true Jenn form, I over analyzed and couldn’t figure out what was going on…what SHOULD be happening. I did figure out in no short order that something was amiss.
Then slowly over the past few weeks the puzzle pieces finally began to click into place….and I have returned to “the QT”. Slowly it dawned on me that I do NEED a “quiet-time” of some sort. I definitely do NEED to study the bible and I NEED to have a time where I dedicate my mind and heart entirely to the Lord…which should thus spill out through the day in prayer (not just ‘leaving God at the door’ of the office each morning to go about my day). Because I need this. For spiritual growth…food…sanctification. I need to draw near to Christ and to know God more. The best means of this is an ‘intimate relationship’ with His Word. HOWEVER, I DO NOT need it for my Justification. My righteousness and my standing with God is based SOLEY on the work of Christ on the cross. He died, was buried and on the third day rose again from the dead. He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty…. When I attempt to add to Christ’s work with anything I DO…it is to spit in the face of his sacrifice and say, “that was not enough, I need to help.”
THAT’s gross. That’s sin. That’s what is referred to as a ‘dead work’. I need a consistent purposeful quiet time to better know this Lord and Savior who would love even me in this unbelievably gracious manner. I need to do this out of love. Welcome back, ‘QT’.