How can young parents find the time to stay close to God with all the other stuff they have to deal with every day?
It’s not that preachers don’t try to help. I encourage my people to personal prayer and Bible study on a regular basis, not out of a sense of religious duty but because of the nature of relationships. If love is a function of time–and it is–how can we expect to love God if we don’t spend time with Him?
The problem is that most young parents don’t have time to spare.
They wake up in the morning to kids who need breakfast, grocery shopping put off from yesterday, work appointments to prepare for, school functions to coordinate, checkbooks to be balanced and car keys they can’t find because their two-year-old thought it was funny to hide them under the couch. Their days are so filled with to-do lists that often their only free time is a few minutes after the kids go to sleep before falling into bed themselves.
Who feels like being spiritual after all that?
Talk about a clash of visions–preachers telling young parents they’re not being spiritual if they don’t devote more time to God while they’re looking at their daily schedule and saying to themselves, “Are you kidding me?”
I wonder if we haven’t set up a false choice between two ways of faithful living. One way is to be so focused on the God-given responsibilities of daily life that they become our guiding purpose.
The other way is our evangelical ideal of a “quiet time”: an hour or so of unhurried time with God every morning with a cup of coffee, a Bible and an open journal in hand, listening to the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible frames the two choices in the story of Martha and Mary, two sisters who loved Jesus but in different ways. Martha stayed busy with household chores while Mary simply sat at Jesus’ feet. In the account (Luke 10:38-42), Jesus commends Mary while gently chastising Martha.
Many young parents today long to be in Mary’s place but the realities of their life force them into Martha’s frantic pace instead.
But is there a third way? A way that combines the prayer of Mary with the activity of Martha. A way in which young parents short on time and energy can still find spiritual nourishment.
I think there is–and it’s a way that’s been around for a long time but in our modern church hasn’t always been given enough attention. This third way is when we choose to see our daily chores and responsibilities not as distractions from God but instead as opportunities for giving and receiving grace.
Brother Lawrence, a medieval monk and author of “The Practice of the Presence of God,” (a book that more people should read) spent his life washing dishes in his monastery’s kitchen. He figured out how to merge prayer and work in a way that honored God and satisfied his own soul:
The time of busyness does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen…I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees in worship.
His counsel is an encouragement to every stressed mom, every overworked dad and every frantic modern family trying to build a spiritual foundation in the modern world. When you begin viewing the ordinary chores and responsibilities of life not as distractions but as opportunities for prayer, worship and grace, you may discover a new dimension for spiritual growth.