Can something so good like your Quiet Time with the Lord become an idol? I was wondering that myself the other day and began to imagine a conversation like this.
I’m talking to a friend and I say, “Golly, I’m feeling disgruntled today. I didn’t have time for my Quiet Time with the Lord this morning.”
She replies, “Oh, that’s interesting. How important is your Quiet Time to how your day goes?”
“Oh, really important. Without it, it just seems like the whole day doesn’t go well at all.”
She looks thoughtful and asks, “I find that curious. Does that mean that God’s power is only effective if you have a Quiet Time?”
I’m not really sure what she means so I ask, “I don’t get it. What do you mean?”
“Well, is God dependent upon your time with Him in order to work during the day? It seems like that’s what your comments imply.”
I’m thinking fast now. Trying to work through what she’s saying but I’m feeling defensiveness creep into my heart. Something feels threatening. “Well, come on now. We know how important Quiet Times are. Even Jesus got up early to go spend time with His Father and He was God Himself!”
She gives a little smile. “I know; and believe me, I’ve been wondering about these things too. But if Jesus had been interrupted, like He actually was sometimes, do you think He would have been less effective for the Father’s work?”
Well, now I really feel defensive. It feels like she is playing around with the very tenants of my belief system. I frown and start to open my mouth to reply but what can I say? Jesus wasn’t as effective? That’s not true. And I vaguely remember some story where Jesus was trying to be alone, or alone with His disciples, and the mobs found Him and interrupted Him. I think that’s the story where He felt compassion and healed them anyway. But then I think of something.
“But what about the idea everyone teaches about being filled up with God through a Quiet Time? That’s supposed to make it possible for me to walk in His power. Even resist temptation.”
“Hey, I think that’s true,” she replies, raising her hand in surrender. “I’m not arguing the value of the Quiet Time. It is essential to study the Word and pray. Along with so many other spiritual disciplines. But what I’m arguing is the…. Well…let me say it this way with a question. You said in the beginning that you felt disgruntled–I think that’s the word you used–because you didn’t have your quiet time. What does that indicate about where you’re getting your power?”
I try to think fast, to figure out where the question is leading. Since my mind is blank, I succumb to just being honest. “From my time with God, but what’s wrong with that?”
“Let me ask instead of answering. Does it feel like your Quiet Time is your source or the Lord?”
I pause to reflect. “Hm, well, based on what I actually said, I guess the Quiet Time.”
“Okay, thanks for answering. Here’s something else to consider. Is thinking of asking God for help moment by moment during the day rather than storing up some sort of power in advance seem uncertain? In other words, what would it be like to believe that God could be available to you moment by moment as you went through your day even if you weren’t able to have your quiet time?”
“Oh, I see what you’re getting at,” I answer as a little light dawned in my brain. “I guess I have operated on the thought that my Quiet Time is essential for a good spiritual day. In other words, a day of walking closely with the Lord. But I must admit that when I do have a good devotional time in the morning, I’m more prone to just think I’m covered and I don’t need to consciously think of God or ask Him for help. Maybe I figure since I’m ‘filled up,’ I don’t need to seek the Lord as much.”
“If that’s true, what is your source? Your devotional time or the Lord?”
“I can see your point now. I guess I was thinking they were the same and in many ways, I believe they are. But if I’m not seeing my need of continually walking and seeking the Lord throughout the day, the quiet time has actually diverted me. Hm, that is an interesting perspective.”
My friend stresses that she also values time with God and always desires to be strengthened by it. But then she adds, “But I’m so glad that my day’s joy and peace isn’t determined by my quiet time, but by God’s power and abiding in Him moment by moment.”
So how does this seem to you? Am I speaking heresy? Is this dangerous? Give me your perspective.
Here’s a concluding thought: When we’re dependent upon anything, whether a concept like the quiet time, or a person or a belief or an image of ourselves–to the exclusion of God and of depending upon His power, or love, or any other quality, then that is an idol. We become dependent upon the “thing” rather than believing God can supersede.
The truth is God can be powerful (or whatever quality is needed: love, faithfulness, merciful, gracious) enough within us regardless of whether we’ve had our Quiet Time or something else. What freedom and joy there is in knowing that.
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