How to spend time with Jesus in every season
My hair is still wet. I’m running 15 minutes behind. No clue what I’m going to wear. My eyes dart over to the Bible on my bed. It's open to the passage I had every intention of reading “in a few minutes” an hour ago. The day has barely begun, and I already feel defeated.
As soon as I pull out of the driveway, guilt sinks in as I recall a photo from my morning scroll through Instagram: a brown, leather Bible that perfectly contrasted with the white folded bedspread it sat on. A verse about joy was highlighted with such a straight line I wondered if the Bible came that way. Nearby, a mug with an inspirational quote held steaming liquid topped with a perfectly proportionate swirl of foam. Oh, and the caption! A beautifully-written description of a spiritual walk that makes mine seem like a long-distance, failing eighth-grade relationship.
My mind snapped back to the reality of a messy bed, a Bible with dog teeth marks, my spontaneously scribbled notes, lists of unread verses, and clusters of highlighter lines that are anything but straight.
Do we love Jesus less if our “quiet time” doesn’t reflect the ideal we see on Instagram? If you’ve ever shamefully wondered if you’re doing this whole “time with Jesus” thing right, you’re not alone.
Life Is a Series of Seasons
If we use someone else’s time with Jesus to measure the effectiveness of our own, we will constantly feel defeated and miss the point. Time with Jesus will look different from season to season, and that is OK. Pursuit, not perfection, is the point.
Pursuit, not perfection, is the point.
Luke 10 describes Mary and Martha, two sisters who know Jesus well. When Jesus pays them a visit, Mary sits at his feet eagerly soaking up every word that comes out of His mouth. Martha, on the other hand, was distracted by the big meal she was preparing for Jesus and His disciples.
Martha was not pleased that Mary was getting quality time with Jesus while she slaved away in the kitchen. In response to her frustration, Jesus says, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
The point of reading the Bible and praying is not to look good in comparison to other people. The point is to grow in our relationship with Jesus. In James 4:8, Jesus’ brother writes, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
Spending time with Jesus is an opportunity to hear from Him, to learn from Him, and as a result, to become more like Him. Artsy or not, clothes folded or in a pile on the floor, Jesus wants us to draw near to Him.
Maybe you don’t block out an hour like she does. Maybe you don’t have the kind of study Bible he has. Maybe you don’t always take notes. Some days, the confessions in my journal would ruin someone’s day, not make it better. Sometimes we feel like Martha, other times we kneel beside Mary.
Pursue Jesus the Best You Can with Everything You Can
Jesus’ love for us is not affected by our quiet times. His character does not change like circumstances and feelings do. 2 Timothy 2:13 promises, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”
Jesus wants our individual hearts. Your heart. My heart. Filter-free. A heart that’s open to the unwavering love He wants to pour out on us freely.
Our time with Jesus doesn’t have to look the same in every season, but it should exist in every season. There will never be a day when we don’t need to hear from Him. So how do we keep the relationship going in every season of life?
Four Tips for Sustaining a Relationship with Jesus Through Every Season
1. Make it a priority.
Even on busy mornings, we get to make the decision about what matters more: time with Jesus or time on social, time with Jesus or time in front of the mirror. Some days you’re going to skip out of the door with freedom as makeup and joy instead of straight hair. Remember, your identity is in Jesus not what anyone else thinks.
2. Be consistent.
There is power in showing up every day. The effects of spending time with Jesus are cumulative. Like any relationship in our lives, we rarely realize how it has shaped us until months and years down the road.
3. Be flexible with the when, where, and how.
When I start caring more about what my walk with Jesus looks like to other people instead of locking eyes with Him alone, the obsession with perception kills my peace. You don’t have to meet with Jesus in the morning over coffee. You can talk to Him anytime, anywhere. Listen to the Bible in your car. Pray while you’re working out. Read devotionals before bed at night. Jesus Himself got away to pray early in the morning and late at night (Luke 5:16, Mark 1:35, and Matthew 26:36-56).
4. Hold fast to the who (Jesus) and what (prayer/His Word).
Reading books and listening to podcasts are great ways to learn about Jesus, but they can’t replace time with Jesus. He is the only one who can truly satisfy us.
When my focus becomes when and where I talk to Jesus, I will constantly bounce from feeling not good enough to feeling self-righteous. There is nothing wrong with sharing what we are learning or posting cute pictures. But those things do not make us closer to Jesus, and someone else’s quiet times should not define ours.
Instead of seeking Instagram-worthy quiet times, seek Jesus. He is what we need.