The alarm assaults my senses as I stir from sleep. Immediately anxious thoughts flood my barely conscious mind. Concerns about the day ahead and responsibilities mingle with regret as guilt creeps in like the unwanted but familiar enemy it is. Before the hot coffee hits the bottom of the mug, I am already feeling defeated and a bit weary.
But years of a habit that became a yearning, lure me to my favorite chair as my husband kisses me goodbye and heads out the door for work. The young men we raised still sleeping until their own alarms beacon them into their day, and I know better now than to let the moments slip away from me. So though part of me at times still resists, I set the steaming mug on the side table, settle into my chair and slip my hand around my familiar Bible.
The unfolding of Your Word brings light (Psalm 119:130), the words wash over me as I open the thin pages and close my eyes to pray.
Daily rhythms make up our lives.
Every day isn’t a cookie cutter of the last, nor can we count on what tomorrow will bring. But the ebbs and flows of a day find us cultivating habits that are either feeding our soul and full of grace or breaking it down and full of grit.
Grace-filled, daily rhythms require intention to begin them.
Having not grown up in a Christian home, I needed to be intentional to learn about and start practicing a daily time with the Lord, or a quiet time. I had never heard of such a thing. But as a young mom, having “quiet time” was an easy sell for me!
I dove in with two feet and began working through every devotional, Bible study workbook and book about the Bible that I could find. I spent many early morning hours next to my freshly fed, sleeping baby, soaking in all I could from these wise Bible teachers.
The rhythm of starting the day with God, even in those sleep-deprived years, cultivated in me an increasing desire for God and His Word. Now, over 20 years later, my daily rhythm dictates it even when my heart fights against it.
During this rhythm of time with the Lord I spend tending truth into my soul as one tends a garden.
This time includes praying Scripture over my family members and myself, listing what I am grateful for in my gratitude journal and thanking God for each gift. I often choose a name or attribute of God that I have recorded over the years and praise Him for being Who He is, along with reminding my own forgetful heart. Then I spend time tending the seed of His Word into my soul.
Tending God’s Word into my soul is really just a simple and fresh approach to Bible study.
It is not exactly “studying,” since for me, that usually requires unpacking the original languages and reading commentaries and the brilliant writings of various scholars. I love to study and really get into the nuts and bolts of the history and the origins of God’s Word. But it takes a lot of time and allows many voices in.
It’s also not exactly “reading,” because when I read the Bible my goal is to just read it through to get the greater picture of Scripture. I enjoy leading a group through yearly chronological Bible reading. Reading the Bible usually includes several chapters at a time, with the goal being to gain an overview and good context, not to unfold the details and respond to the lessons.
But Tending the Word into my soul is a slow, intentional, four-fold method of leaning in and noticing God’s character and what He is teaching me. Tending my soul by the Word is about responding in an intimate relationship with the One who hears every cry and offers healing like no other. The One who invites us to draw near and allow the unfolding of His Word to bring us the light we desperately need in this dark world (James 4:8 & Psalm 119:130).
Tending His Word like a seed pressed into the soil of our soul. It begins with Taking time to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to speak and help me understand. Then I Examine the facts in the verse (only 1-3 verses). I write down the facts in my journal and ask the Lord to show me the lessons. I then Notice what is being taught about God in the verses and what spiritual lesson is being taught here. God’s Word is about God. The Holy Spirit is faithful to shed light on His character and reveal Himself to me, as I unfold the words. Finally, then I seek to Do what it says; I respond to the lessons He is teaching me.
God is so faithful to guide us and speak to us, if we will be still to listen. Thankfully the time spent unfolding a verse is less than 20 minutes, but the benefits and the intimacy it offers me with Jesus is worth every moment.
Throughout the day, the Holy Spirit often brings the verses I have tended through to my recollection. It is an opportunity to further talk to God about the verses and the lessons He is cultivating in my heart. He is faithful to bring forth fruit in the lives of those who will allow Him, the Gardener of our soul, to tend His Word deep, for His glory and our good.
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