A woman sent me this question in an email the other day:
“I love God’s Word! I want to spend more time reading and studying, but it’s so hard because I feel like I need to stick toothpicks in my eyelids just to keep my eyes open because I’m so worn out raising my young kids. What do I do? HELP!”
I can certainly empathize with her – how about you?
There’s no doubt this woman is not alone in her feelings or experience. I’m pretty sure this question has been asked by our brothers and sisters all over the world - from all times - in all their various languages - and in all their diverse contexts. We’re exhausted and we’re hungry for God’s Word. Pass the toothpicks, please. (I'll take a latte and a bag of M&Ms to go with my toothpicks.)
This blog post is not a list of top ten practical suggestions-- just one ridiculous-sounding affirmation and a description of what our calling, pursuing, feeding, and preserving triune God does to help our weary, Word-hungry souls.
First, the ridiculous-sounding affirmation: What a tender place the Lord has you in! To have that feeling of longing for his Word and to have that be your big question emerge in the midst of those circumstances is a precious gift. We’re not Word-hungry on our own; it’s evidence of the Spirit’s work when our heart is inclined to his testimonies (Ps. 119:12). And what a blessing it is to your young children that they see your appetite for God’s Word being played out in front of their watching eyes. Where does Mommy want to run to (or limp) when she’s starved for spiritual nourishment? God’s Word is so treasured that time spent meditating on it is hunted down instead of brushed off. It’s an assuring and tender grace of God to feel that even in your bone-weary physical fatigue you feel just as deeply that your soul longs and even faints for fellowship with God.
And next, to address the matter of help. I don’t have a top ten list of helpful suggestions or a packet of toothpicks today, but a description of the ready and willing help we are given by the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit:
When we feel that our environment must be “just so” in order to have fellowship with God, any wild-card elements inherit the name “Interruption.” A toddler’s plea for help with a game is an interruption. The children’s early bedtime is an interruption. The baby who refuses to settle down is an interruption.
What if God wants to fellowship with us right where we are—even in the commotion of ordinary life? Most assuredly, he does. Consider how the triune God is working to ensure that you behold his glory throughout your days and nights.
Your heavenly Father is sovereign over all things. A sparrow drops its feather on the ground, escaping the clutches of a curious little boy. A car battery dies in the parking lot after a play date at the same moment your overtired children reach their limit. A pacifier falls out of a baby’s mouth just before the baby nods off to sleep. Nothing—nothing happens without the sovereign Lord’s ordaining it. He is trustworthy and praiseworthy in every moment in every circumstance.
The eternal Son of God is Immanuel—God with us. Jesus fulfilled God’s holy law, was crucified in our place, rose victorious from the dead, and is reigning at the Father’s right hand. Jesus satisfied God’s wrath against sin and purchased us from the slavery of sin. By faith we receive Jesus’s perfect righteousness, and he creates in us new hearts that are prone to love him. Even when you don’t feel this is true about yourself, a daughter of the King, it is. Even when you imagine that your life is hell and you have forgotten that you’ve been transferred into the kingdom of God’s marvelous light, you’re still his forever. You can be sure that nothing will separate you from God’s love for you in Christ Jesus your Lord—“neither death nor life” (Rom. 8:38).
The Holy Spirit of God indwells the heart of believers and writes God’s law on their heart. When we meditate on God’s Word, the Spirit delights to confirm in our heart that God is who he says he is. The Spirit graciously awakens us to the affliction of our sin, and he enlivens in us an affection for God’s holiness. When we put our hand to the plow (or rather, the scrub brush), the Spirit enlivens us to work as unto the Lord. The Spirit helps us in our weakness and ignorance, praying for us as we don’t know what to pray for. The Holy Spirit is like the neuron that travels from our taste buds to our brain with the message that dark-chocolate-covered orange slices are exquisite. When we taste things such as providence or our union with Christ, it’s the Spirit who tells ours heart that the Lord is good."
Adapted from Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full (Crossway 2014).