Everyday Christian: My ‘quiet’ time is anything but!

Making peace with ‘scraps’

My day begins with the shower procession. Child one bursts into the bathroom while I’m under the shower, offloads her grievance and exits.

Cue child two … Child two enters, and passionately states her case against child one. Appeased, child two storms back downstairs to finish her fight with child one.

Next! Child three arrives to report on a plethora of problems: dodgy internet connection, forms that need signing, events that need urgent RSVPs.

I peer at child three through soap-dripping eyes to assure them I will get straight on to these concerns … when I’m dry … and dressed.

When child three leaves, the dog pads into our bathroom. This is the final straw. “Out!” I yell and slam the door behind her poor, furry behind.

Between interruptions, shampoo and soaping, I attempt to catch grabs of godly truths.

Half-dry, I begin shoving on work clothes, feeling increasingly flustered. My dishevelled state is perhaps not helped by the fact that even when my bedroom is devoid of children and animals, I am still trying to multitask.

You see, before I step into the shower each work morning, I optimistically hit play on my Bible devotional app. So between interruptions, shampoo and soaping, I attempt to catch grabs of godly truths.

Inevitably, I have to play each day’s devotion a second time to try to make any sense of it. By the time I’m made up and somewhat put together, I’ve still absorbed only a few words of a Bible verse and the general gist of the rest.

While it’s better than nothing, I know this ‘quiet time’ is not ideal. On my non-work days, I do linger longer over morning devotions, noting down verses and gratitude points in a journal. But even then, there are usually interruptions and I’m left feeling mostly unsatisfied, with a longing to sink deep into the Lord’s presence and remain there for hours.

Of course, some of my quiet time problems could be solved by getting up earlier to try to find some solitude. But other issues are tied to the busy phase of motherhood I’m in.

“We must make do with scraps … ” – Michael Leunig

I’m reminded of an image by iconic Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig. This cartoon, called ‘Scraps‘, lived under a magnet on my mum’s fridge for years.

Among Leunig’s reflections in this image, accompanied by his quirky cartoons, are the words:

“We must make do with scraps …
“Little scraps of peace and quiet …
“Leftovers, oddments, remnants of the glorious situation. A fragment of God. Not much really. Sorry. Time’s up.”

For me, this sums up my fraught relationship with quiet times. It’s all rolled into the now-but-not-yet-ness of life this side of heaven – the inadequacies of earthy life summed up in 1 Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

I remind myself that my daily conversation with God doesn’t stop …

So while I will continue to strive for a more present, concentrated time with the Lord each day, I also have to make peace with the imperfections of my devotional times. Rather than feeling frustrated and frazzled by my frequent inability to connect with God as deeply and meaningfully as I would like, I remind myself that my daily conversation with him doesn’t stop when the app stops playing.

Instead, the Lord is with me always – even “to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He is with me when I wake and sleep (Psalm 3), “when I sit down and when I rise up” (Psalm 139). He knows my thoughts before I think them, and he knows my words before I speak them (Psalm 139). We are indeed in a constant, continued conversation, God and me.

So I don’t need to say or hear everything in a ten-minute-each-morning time slot. I can talk to the Lord all morning, all day, all evening. I can talk to him all week, all month, all year, for the rest of my life. More importantly, he can use this infinite time to talk to me.

And when you piece together all these tiny pieces of conversation across the whole of eternity, then scraps don’t seem so bad after all.