Growing up, my family met downstairs for breakfast promptly at 6:15 am. My dad would turn on the radio and adjust the dial to WTOP 1500, his favorite station for “up to the minute traffic and weather.”
If the dial wasn’t in the proper position, the voices of the announcers were difficult to decipher or we’d tune in to a different station entirely. Occasionally we’d hear nothing but static, signaling the antennae was out of alignment. My dad would manually move it left or right until the signal came in clear.
As a result of the morning traffic reports, my dad sometimes changed his route to work. As a result of the weather report, we’d decide what to wear. A day didn’t go by without us listening to that station. It’s something I still remember, now twenty-five years later.
My relationship with Jesus looks a lot like this now. When I first wake up, my default setting is often my to-do list, but I am learning how to realign my antennae to tune into God’s presence. Some days it requires a manual adjustment, usually a scripture verse or short devotion, to shift my attention to Him. Other days getting the alignment just right is a struggle, but there is much less static now than there used to be.
As I have made spending time with God a daily discipline, it is easier to distinguish His voice from my own. Like an instant download that speaks deep into my soul, His voice challenges, convicts, and comforts me. Sometimes it leads to stillness, soaking in His Word and seeking His guidance for how to apply it. Other times, it inspires me to act, like I’ve been tasked with a divine assignment. (Many of my blog posts are the product of this.)
While my coffee is brewing, I pull out my Bible, devotional, and prayer journal. I find my quiet place by the morning room window and kneel in silence. Just like my dad’s old-school radio, position is important. With a posture of humility, a spirit of surrender, and a heart that yearns for more of Him, I first praise Him. I express my desire to develop a closer relationship with Him and discern His will above all else. Then, I confess my sins, asking God to empty me of everything that stands in the way of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Finally, I present my needs to the Lord and seek His direction to make wise decisions.
The God I Know
While I was raised up in the church, my early experiences centered around rituals and routines. My faith was characterized by scripted prayers, completing sacraments, and studying the Bible with little focus on seeking a personal relationship with Jesus. When God opened my eyes to where I stood in my walk with Christ, my first response was to try harder. I subscribed to daily devotionals, signed up for Bible studies, and read every book on Christianity I could get my hands on. Those things were invaluable in many ways; they got me into God’s Word and filled my mind with wholesome thoughts that alleviated my anxiety. They provided opportunities for fellowship where I formed meaningful connections with other Christians. But they were no substitute for simply spending time with the Lord. God didn’t want me to do more, He wanted more of me. Developing a personal relationship with God came down to focusing on one thing: spending time with Him in prayer.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10a
It wasn’t until my mid-30’s that I set my drivenness aside long enough to sit still in God’s presence and earnestly seek Him. I let go of my reliance on scripted prayers to speak from my heart. I stopped reading scripture like it was a fantasy novel, flying through the pages so I could check the box on my Bible reading plan. Rather than cover large quantities in a single sitting, I slowed down to digest them, giving them time to reach deep into my soul and praying over how to put them into practice.
The more I read His Word, the more questions I had. To get over this hurdle, I got plugged into a community of believers who had been where I once was and had Godly wisdom to share. I began to consider God’s track record (He’s batting a thousand), and trust in His promises. As I let go of having all the answers, God showed up in unexpected ways. My focus shifted from going and doing to growing into the woman God created me to be.
The song, The God I Know, accurately depicts my journey from a little girl in her Sunday best who went to church every week, recited her prayers, and completed the sacraments to a woman whose soul has been saved by setting aside rituals to seek a personal relationship with Jesus:
If it was all about religion
What to do, what to say
What to wear on a Sunday
All about perfection
Black and white, wrong or right, never grey
Well, I’d never make it
I’d never be good enough (oh-oh-oh)
I try to walk the line, pray that I’d find
Something that I knew was real
Began to realize, the harder I tried
The colder I’d start to feel
Until the moment, the second I met Your Love (Oh-oh-oh)
And then I threw my hands up, worries down
I remember when He showed me how
To break up with my doubt
Once I was lost, but now I’m found
No strings attached, when He saved my soul
I want you to know, the God I know
Oh, you gotta know, oh, the God I know
At His Feet
For most of my life, I didn’t know a personal relationship with Jesus was possible. I didn’t feel His presence or know that my purpose and fulfillment would be found at His feet. If you’re there now, or if you’re struggling to find God in the midst of your crazy schedule, please hear this:
There is more out there waiting for you. God wants more of you too. He desires a relationship with each one of us. Will you set aside your desire to go and do to spend time with Him and seek His direction? Most of us have our own route planned out and hit a lot of “traffic jams” that could have been avoided had we taken the time to “tune in” to Him.
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NKJV
Here are a few things that have helped me declutter my faith so I can focus on what matters most – knowing Christ and making Him known. (For the complete list, click here)
- Replace empty rituals with activities that spark joy and connection. Consider a Bible Reading Plan on a topic of interest, joining a small group, or seeking a spiritual mentor.
- Replace scripted prayers with daily dialogue. Just as we can’t build strong communication with a loved one through Hallmark cards, we can’t build a meaningful relationship with Jesus without speaking from our heart and quieting our mind long enough to hear His response.
- In the words my pastor, Tim Brooks, don’t let your confusion trump your calling. Focus less on having all the answers and more on building the relationship. Let go of having the plan for your entire life to focus on doing your best with what God has given you today. In focusing on one step at a time, we are less overwhelmed and learn how to more fully rely on Him.
As it turns out, the answers I’d been seeking – how to find my purpose, overcome anxiety, break free from perfectionism, and hear God’s voice – came in time, during regular quiet time, while spending time with Him.
What might decluttering your faith look like for you?
Call To Action: This blog post isn’t designed to give you all the answers, but to point you to the One who can. Invite God to come into your life and make Himself real to you. Then, take a moment to review 10 Tips to Declutter Your Faith and decide what the next step in your walk with Jesus looks like for you. How can you declutter your faith so you are free to focus on building a personal relationship?
If you don’t already have a regular quiet time, be intentional this week about creating space in your calendar to connect with your Creator. Whether you open your Bible, download the daily devotionals from my Jump Start Plan, or simply talk to God, seek a practice that sparks joy and brings you into a closer relationship with Jesus. This is our ultimate goal.
Additional Resources: Check out these resources for how to make the most of your quiet time. Download my Free Jump Start Plan for my favorite resources to grow in your faith and prime your day with God’s Word.
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Jen Roland is a mom of three, music lover, fitness enthusiast, and follower of Christ. A teacher by trade, God expanded her passion for helping others from a science classroom to a community of women committed to improving their health, growing their faith, and living with focused intention. Please visit Jen’s blog Fueled Fit Focused