2014 Spring · reflections

Present in the chaos

by Rebecca G.

14_redchair

As I sit here writing about quiet times I am having the ultimate of quiet times. I am in a warm, fire-lit house in a village in Slovakia on a personal retreat: 24 hours away from my dear husband and seven precious children. To be alone with my thoughts, my Bible, my Lord for more than just a few minutes without interruption is, well, unheard of for me. Perhaps I should describe what my quiet times really look like.

Imagine me in my big, overstuffed red chair that was shipped from America with a cup of coffee beside me, my Bible open on the armrest. I have a baby on my breast, two girls fighting over a toy at my feet and a boy throwing a ball past my head, across the room.

This is the scene Dominik observed as he awoke in our home one of the many mornings he stayed with us. Dominik is a young Slovak man who loves the Lord. He grew up in an orphanage. In his desire to learn about family life, specifically Christian family life, he sought to spend as much time with us as possible.

He kindly offered to watch over things so I could go into the office and spend some “real” quiet time with the Lord. Shocked, I agreed to take him up on the offer and enjoyed 10 minutes speaking to the Lord and reading His Word. I emerged thankful for the brief time but with a true desire to communicate to Dominik that it’s okay for my times with the Lord to look like this. The Lord gives me just what I need. He gives to me, even in my chaos.

That was a few years ago and a couple of children less. Since then we’ve had two more and five of them go to school each day. Even though I wake up early, my mornings get going quickly with special lunches to prepare for a child with food allergies, in addition to breakfast and school snacks.

Thankfully, we have one habit as a family that leads me in my time with the Lord throughout the day. We spend each morning in His word together. Typically it’s our habit to read from Proverbs each morning. We choose the chapter that corresponds with the date. In this way we have read through Proverbs many times and learn something new with each pass through. We return to the Word together in the evening. Currently in the evenings we are reading through the Gospels, but at some point in the year we work through Psalms or other books in the Old Testament.

This time we share together as a family not only feeds our children, but me as well. I will often write one of the verses that popped out during our daily Proverbs reading on our chalkboard. I meditate on it throughout the day and it almost always comes up in our discipline of and encouragement to our children. The Lord convicts my own heart and actions through His Word as well, and my awareness of His words throughout the day leads me to prayer in very specific ways.

My times with the Lord are hardly quiet, other than this rare retreat I’m experiencing right now. But I am not hindered in growing spiritually. Rather than dutifully spending time with Him in hopes that I will get something from Him, I am being poured into by Him in the loudness and chaos of the life in which He’s placed me. I long ago gave up on the sense that I had to have quiet to have time with Him. It’s not realistic for me at this stage in my life. What I discovered instead was time with Him throughout the whole, loud day. We do not need a specific, special time with Him each day; we specifically need Him, each day, all day.

A number of years ago, during a challenging, chaotic time in my life, the Lord brought me to a passage in Psalm 16 where I camped out solely for more than 6 months. Even when no quietness existed in my life I could find my way to the most worn page in my Bible and quiet my spirit. It is a passage I’ve encouraged many mothers to visit. It essentially assures me that this stage of life I’m in right now, my portion and my cup, has been assigned to me by my Lord. It is a good and pleasant place for me to be.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. – Psalm 16:5-6

And I can praise Him because at all times he counsels me, and “even at night my heart instructs me” (Psalm 16:7). Yes, that means moms who are awoken in the night with a disturbing illness or frightened child or a lingering concern from the day can seek Him for counsel.

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. – Psalm 16:8

With God’s Word always before me (laid open on my kitchen counter or written on my chalkboard or etched in my memory) I am aware of his constant presence in my life. Indeed, I literally look to my right hand when I am tempted to be shaken by circumstances or unruly children. I find Him there strengthening me.

He has made known to me this path of life, this walking with Him through the chaos, and filled me with all day joy in His constant presence (Psalm 16:11).

I daily strive to spend time in His Word and in quietness. Most days I fail. But it is not my performance, or lack thereof, that determines my spiritual growth. He pursues me and comes to me knowing exactly what I need each moment of each day.

Very soon I will get on a bus, and then a train, and then another train and then a taxi and I will walk into a home where seven overjoyed children will greet me and all start speaking to me at once. I will barely have time to go to the bathroom as I rush to the kitchen with a toddler in my arms and a girl or two on my leg and I hurry to make dough for our weekly pizza and movie night. This temporary quiet is a lovely respite that has filled my soul deeply.

With one more child on the way, it will be a while before I experience quiet again. But my times with the Lord do not require this. He gives to me in my chaos.

Perhaps you are like my friend, Dominik, and finding quiet time is easy for you. Enjoy! Meet Him there! Or you may be more like me, with a house full of lovely loudness and maybe even with another on the way, and you know quiet won’t be attainable for quite some time. Enjoy! Meet Him there!

And know that He is in the chaos.


Where does your soul find rest? Do you have a particular place in your home to which you regularly retreat for time with the Lord? Do you draw near to Him through music, journaling, or simply by opening His word? Give us a glimpse into your home. Submit a picture and/or story of your own “quiet time corner” to wmt@ecpca.org. We want to see where you take refuge for quiet (or not-so-quiet) times with God as part of our Quiet Time series.


g_rebecca

Rebecca and her family are serving with Mission to the World in Slovakia, ministering to those in their community through church planting and marriage and family life discipleship. They have been members at ECPC for 12 years and have been on the field in Slovakia for seven years. She and her husband of almost 17 years have seven children–6 girls and a boy– and are expecting their eighth child in August. While most of her children are fairly fluent in Slovak, Rebecca regularly embarrasses them with her attempts to speak the language. She loves to prepare healthy meals for her growing family, and makes up for her lack of language skills with her culinary efforts.

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One thought on “Present in the chaos

  1. Thank you for this article. Thank you for your encouraging life you live here in Slovakia. God bless your next baby and your family life that brings light to the life of many.

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