I used to believe that a regular morning routine was out there somewhere in my life. Maybe it would come when I finished college. Maybe when my job didn't require so much of me spiritually. Maybe when I lived in a quieter house. Maybe when I got married. Maybe when I got better sleep. Sometime in the past few years I've realized that just isn't going to happen. Ever. People might say life is what you make of it, but sometimes life just makes you, doesn't it?
Life reveals you. It finds you out. It sneaks up on you with pranks and cranks and crabs and empty bags of coffee beans. It just doesn't take long to be thrown off rhythm, feel overwhelmed, and to just throw your hands up. I have been there, friends, I am there in many ways. Life just hasn't felt kind to me the past few years and finding a time to read, reflect, pray, praise, and memorize has felt like me trying to solo backpack across the Sahara. I've got the supplies in my pack, but I haven't got any idea how to this.
There is such a wealth of Bible study tools out there and such a deluge of books to read on why studying the Bible is good, and often times I find it easy to get caught up in what they all say I'm supposed to do...and feel guilty when for whatever reason I can't. I'm going to tell you what I've found works for me, over many years of practice, and having to throw out a lot of "best practices" to find the ones that are sustainable for me.
I love deep Bible study, but I find what I need for deep Bible study is the constraint of a class or gathering or a group of people. I need that accountability. This is the way I've been created. However, what sustains me and actually brings me joy in the day to day grind, is not deep Bible study, but daily manna. Enough. Just enough. It keeps me coming back the next day wanting more and more and more, and often times leading me to a time when I'm able to get back into deep study of the Word with others. But not every day can be that time. I just wanted to say that because I think there is a deep thirst for the deep Bible study and we ought to pursue it, but there are just some seasons when the constraint and accountability of a class isn't available, and we still need the Word.
My daily routine (right now) looks like this—and it may seem like grazing to some people, but it may seems like over-eating to others. Take what helps you, leave what doesn't. God knows what season of life and change you're in, and He never changes.
Most weekday mornings I have my beverage of choice in hand and am sitting down by 6:45. I'm trying to gradually move that earlier and earlier. I read my Scripture memory card one time (currently Psalm 34:13-14). I read my daily growth card one time, asking God for help. I open my small notebook and write the passage of Scripture I'm rereading (Currently Amos: my best practice for Scripture reading has been to read the same book over and over, sometimes 20 times over the course of a month or two, one chapter a day.) and the date, and I write O, I, & A down the side (Observation, Interpretation, and Application), leaving a space at the bottom for a prayer. I read one chapter from Amos, make some observations about what is happening in this passage. Then I make some interpretations about the character of God, the character of man, and where Christ is seen in the chapter. Then I apply this to my today. Then I write a short 2-3 sentence prayer. All of this takes less than 30 minutes.
After I read Scripture, I'll read a chapter from a book (right now The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner), open my daily notebook, see what's on the calendar for the day, what's on the menu for tonight, and what tasks I need to do. Sometimes I'll pray as I do that, asking God to help me be faithful, to see him as sufficient, and for the Spirit to lead me as I work. Nothing fancy, just breathing staccato prayers, as I call them. Help. Thank you. Please. I praise.
I know there are some of you with six kids and chickens in the yard and a baby nursing, and there are some of you getting up at 5am to navigate hellish traffic on your way to the office, and some of you for whom mornings are really difficult, facing the day feels heavier than most of us can fathom. I want you to know that today, as I read Amos 1 again, reading how God protects what is his and disciplines those who come against it, I prayed for you. I prayed that the things battling against you, attempting to obliterate your areas of strength, your trust in God, and your clarity of mind, would be crushed by the Lord and his Spirit would comfort you in the process. He cares for you. He knows the season of life you're in and the things you can't bear, and he's bearing them for you.
Maybe a long, deep drink from the well of his Word seems impossible today, but if you can get a sip, take one. Stick an index card in your back pocket with a piece of Scripture on it. Meditate on it while you wash dishes, while you're at the red light, before you rise up. God knows you are dust, he made you out of it. Do what you can, with his help and comfort.