We float in murky waters.  The depth of our relationships is not determined by our sight alone- potential is worthless until we dive.  People are as dynamic as the waters are turbulent.  I think I’m complicated enough.  Do I really have to share in the complications of interaction?  

Although we don’t say it aloud, I think we share sentiments.  Like water is buoyant and pushes us back to the surface, so the complexity of relationships drive us to shallowness.  It’s so much easier to block our hearts- less vulnerability, less pain, less trust.  I’ve tottered in the shallow end in many of my relationships.

Written by Nick Holmstedt

Written by Nick Holmstedt

Now, I think there is variation of depth even in spiritual friendships.  But our unifier (you know, God) is more than physical and emotional.  He is spiritual.  So are we, and if we neglect that area in our friendships then we neglect a part of ourselves.  When we interact in the spiritual we can relate along the path of eternity.  Our friendships might look dirtier like that murky water.  But when we swim through, we reach the clear blue of the ocean’s depths (don’t get washed away in this analogy’s incongruity).  

How can we breach the soul to reach this picturesque landscape of a relationship?  I’ve found the primary separator is pursuit.  I like metaphors, so here’s one: in geosynchronous orbit, the International Space Station races around the planet more than a dozen times a day.  To match the velocity and dock, a space shuttle would have to achieve a similar orbit- the distance from the earth in part determines the speed (so-called angular velocity).  Getting closer to earth speeds the vessel.  Our spiritual relationships should gravitate around God.  We match- or closely match- the orbit of our community and thereafter inherit similar speed.  We have to pursue God, so we consistently push ourselves closer to Him, gaining speed all the while.  Along with us are our friends who are also gravitating towards Him.  In this way, we are intimately connected.  Friends without this focus are like comets.  They pass by with fleeting curiosity, but cannot maintain a connection- their orbit is not focused on the nearby earth but on so many other curiosities that float through space.  No matter how long or how important they are, eventually they’ll fade into the darkness unless they surrender to the orbit of God.  

We must pursue God.  Relationships of eternal substance can exist only in light of His reality.  And, frankly, our growth stagnates unless we are eternally focused.  A good spiritual friendship borne of vulnerability and genuine compassion with a focus on God seems to be a predictor of sustainable growth and joy.  

Posted
AuthorBlane Young
Written by Natalie Hill

Written by Natalie Hill

One time a friend wrote me a note, folded it up, and tucked it into my journal for me to find the next time I went in it.  She knew I was feeling “stuck” in my devotional life.  At the top of the page it read, “A Helpful (but Incomplete) Guide To Your Quiet Time.”  It was a simple gesture - just a page torn out of a notebook with a couple thoughts written down - but I still look back on it even now.

Having a personal devotional life is important because we can always go further and deeper.  We continually grow in our understanding of Jesus, not just by learning more or reading more verses, but also by constantly being recharged by God, knowing that He truly is our daily bread.

But all of us struggle with being consistent.  We do well for a little while, but then we stop. My friend’s practical tips helped me with the sustainability and regularity of my quiet time.

One thing I know is that everyone has different preferences.  Some people (like me) are morning people, and others (definitely not me) are night owls.  Some people like white noise, and others need complete silence.  So it’s important to find what works best for you and to create an environment that brings you joy.  Because, after all, you should enjoy the one-on-one time you have with Jesus.  Here are some more thoughts:

 

Time

Find a time when you’re the most energized.  I like to do my devotions in the morning before work when I’m feeling refreshed.  I’ve found that it starts my day off well and dictates my thoughts, feelings, and actions throughout the day.  

 

Setting

Find a place where you’re at peace.  Solitude and privacy is important.  I’ve found that if I’m not somewhere private, I don’t feel comfortable praying or really losing myself in my quiet time.  I’m distracted and self-conscious.  So I’ll usually sit at my desk after my roommate leaves for work and open the blinds so the sun comes in.  Little things like that make a difference.  It’s also good to change up routine.  Go to a coffee shop or a park.  I have friends who love the Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral.  Sometimes you just need a change of scenery. 

I like to listen to music in the background and often make morning playlists (lately it’s included John Mark McMillan and All Sons & Daughters).  Music helps settle me.

Good food makes a huge difference.  In my friend’s note, she wrote, “Take something delicious with you.”  For me, that’s coffee in a favorite mug (the mug really does matter).  Maybe for others it’s breakfast or chocolate or a diet coke.  

 

Content

There have been times when I’ve journaled and read spiritual books but have left feeling empty because I didn’t fill up on God’s Word.  It’s easy to get caught up in the outside voices and forget that our best way to hear God’s voice is through His actual words in the Bible.  YouVersion is a great website with all kinds of Bible reading plans.  Taking notes helps me remember what I’m reading, and it’s good to look back on my thoughts and feelings.  And I think there are few things better in life than a good journal. 

Overall, I think the most important thing is to find out what works for you.  Once we get caught up on the rules and steps, we’ve lost the point.  Devotional life is about getting in God’s presence and growing in Him through His Word and through prayer.  It’s up to us to create a quiet time environment where we find joy. 

Posted
AuthorBlane Young