Before The Day Begins…
- JoAnn Dorrepaal Contributing Writer
- 2004 1 Nov
What an amazing challenge Jesus our Lord and Savior has put before you in this call to teach your child(ren) at home! Beyond the decision you have made to do this formidable task, are the many daily choices that come with the package we call Home Schooling. It is out of these daily choices that will come the eventual success that you desire for your child. How vital it is then, that you start each day by getting alone with the Lord for your own personal time of refreshment with Him. No other single factor will contribute more to you being able to do this God-sized task without experiencing continual exhaustion.
Knowing that this is true, do you still struggle, as I did, to make time alone with God a daily reality? Beth Moore makes the statement in her Bible study "Believing God", that sometimes "our reality doesn't meet our theology." Have you ever had that experience? Most certainly you would defend to the death the truth that a believer needs to be in God's Word daily. Great theology! But does your reality match this belief? Honestly now, I must confess, that many days I talked about God but didn't quite talk to Him. I would venture forth armed with my lesson plans and carefully chosen curriculum, but my soul was definitely running low on fuel. Because I was "busy", I ignored the Lord's invitation to "come with me to a quiet place and get some rest." (Mark 6:31) (Notice in Mark chapter 6 how busy the disciples were!) Think of the irony: I was committed to training my children to have a vital relationship with the Lord, but was neglecting my own. That's like spending day after day working in your neighbor's garden while your own becomes overgrown with weeds. When all we can possibly do for our children is said and done, nothing will be more potent than for them to see the priority we placed on our time with the Master. A verse in Psalm 119:16 expresses it so succinctly: "I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." Further on in the same chapter we read (verse 28) "My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word." Do you have days, as I do, when you are dissatisfied with the way things are going? Maybe you are "weary with sorrow". That sounds possible, doesn't it? Notice the antidote: you can be strengthened "according to (God's) word."
So where do we go from here? How do we live with our priorities straight? First of all, talk to the Lord and confess how negligent you have been in this area. Ask Him to give you a desire and a hunger for His Word and His presence. Ask Him to help you get to bed on time.
Decide on the when
Start with a modest amount of time and increase it as you get settled into your new habit. Twenty minutes is what I recommend because it is doable. Can you get up twenty minutes earlier? I suggest the beginning of a new day as the best time to do this. Invite Him to wake you (even before the alarm goes off) and give you an anticipation of your time together. We live our lives in units of 24 hours and it makes sense to refuel at the start of the day's journey.
Plan the where
Decide on the best place for privacy and convenience. If your home has a comfortable basement, you could set up a place there. You'll need a place to sit, a light and a small table for your Bible, prayer journal and coffee cup! You could choose to sit at your dining room table or in your living room. In the warm weather you could meet the Lord on your deck or back porch. Having a specific place where you meet with the Lord will help keep your habit consistent. Store your materials nearby, in one place, for easy access. Stay focused on preparing to meet with the Lord. Do not get sidetracked doing anything else. Resist the urge to empty the dishwasher or start a load of laundry. If your coffee pot has a timer, set it the night before so you are ready to roll once your feet hit the floor. Minimize the time between waking and whispering your first prayer to the Lord. Picture Him there, at your spot, waiting expectantly for you to come.
Determine the what
What exactly would be the best use of this precious twenty minutes? Start with a time of praise. Tell the Lord you are glad He has saved you and given you eternal life. Thank Him for the indwelling of His Spirit. A favorite tool I use for this is Ruth & Warren Myers' book, "31 Days of Praise." Each day of the month focuses on a different theme of praise and thanksgiving. In all, it takes about two minutes to read one daily portion. That sets the tone for the rest of my time. Time in the Scriptures should be the backbone of this encounter. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak a word to you for that day. He will do this through the Word. Read a short portion of Scripture. Ask yourself what it says, what it means and then what it means to you. Write down at least one truth and how you plan to apply it that day. Some good passages to begin with would be Psalm 119 (a section a day), The Sermon on The Mount from Matthew 5-7, or the Upper Room Discourse from John 13 to 17.
Finally, a prayer time will help you launch your day enjoying God's presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to point to sin that needs to be confessed. Acknowledge His authority over your life for this day and invite His cleansing and His control. Ask Him for faith to know Him more fully and to believe His Word. As you expand your time, you can enjoy singing to the Lord a verse or two of a favorite hymn or chorus. Give this discipline one week and see for yourself what a difference it will make in your life!
JoAnn Dorrepaal is a born-again Christian and a teacher who lives in Norfolk, Virginia with her husband, Mark. During her career, she has worked with students in public schools, Christian schools and has also enjoyed some time teaching her own three children at home. JoAnn is a speaker, writer and advocate for today's Christian women to live the abundant life.