Today is my first day of summer break. Going to bed last night was so nice. I wasn’t worrying about lesson plans, or meetings, or tests. I was only worried about what I would be doing with my first day off. However, my alarm was still set or the same time as always…4:20am. Why? Everyday that Brian and I have been married, we have made it part of our daily routine to start our day with God. We spend time drinking coffee, reading our daily devotional, and then jumping into the Word. This is a non-negotiable for us. Now, please know that I am not tooting my own horn, or patting us on the backs. I’m really just trying to share how this time in the Word has completely changed my heart, my mind. my relationship. and my life. It is not enough to rely on the hour a week in church to be your time studying or learning. Our walk with God requires that we spend time with Him in His word every day. Jesus says in John 8:31 “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.” Jesus’ teachings are so plentiful and numerous and there is so much to be learned from the many parables He taught. But we must “remain” in the Word. The word remain shows up over and over in the Bible, especially in the book of John. In chapter 15 Jesus uses the image of a vine and the branches. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” So not only do we spend time or “stay” in the word, but we are to “remain” in Jesus! And the most amazing and reassuring promise, if we dwell, or abide, or stay in Him…He will dwell, abide, and stay in us. It’s such a comforting thought to know that Jesus will dwell in us. We can dwell in Him in many ways. Prayer, study, reading His word, surrounding ourselves with people who are like-minded and who will build us up and encourage us. And our lives will show that He is in us. “Those who remain in me and I in them will produce much fruit. For apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5). For me, I know that as I spend time with Jesus in the early hours of the morning, He is in me and I am in Him…and the peace that comes from that time, is well worth the sacrifice of a little sleep.
Recently Brian and I started a small group in conjunction with a series called “Fearless” we had been doing at Foundation Community Church. The study is based on a book of the same name by Max Lucado. So far there have been so many things that have really stuck with me. I’ve been asking myself what it is that I am truly most afraid of. Where do those fears come from? And on and on. And as a follow up to all of those questions, how do I react when my fears control me. There is a story of Jesus and his disciples climbing onto a boat one day. Jesus took a nap. While he was sleeping a violent, fierce storm blew up. The disciples immediately questioned Jesus by asking him if he didn’t care if they died. This reaction has always interested me. They knew what he was capable of…they just wanted to know why he wasn’t helping them. They were questioning his character. They were frustrated and angered even. My big take away from this lesson is that Jesus knew all along what was going on. He didn’t “accidentally” fall asleep. He purposely slept – for the disciples to grow in their faith and understanding. It makes me wonder how many times God has gone to sleep so that I could grow. How many times have I become angry at God for seemingly not caring that I was suffering? I know that he has slept through some of my storms so that I would come out better on the other side. That’s a lot of love. I see my responses in the words of the disciples. I have questioned God and his love for me. And through the course of each of those storms, my faith has grown. God loves me enough to sleep through my storms.