by Heather Bock
I’m the kind of person who grows frustrated with devotional books, the kind with a few brief verses and a few paragraphs roughly on the same topic with a story thrown in at the beginning to catch the reader’s attention. They’re fine, nothing really wrong with them, but they often lack depth, especially modern ones. They’re more like light appetizers or desserts, and I want some meat and potatoes when I spend time with God. I want to really study His Word.
I’ll get up early if I need to, even though I’m no morning lark. I’ve been known to go to lengths to arrange my children’s differing nap schedules so they fall at the same time so I can have time to study God’s Word properly and have a good chunk of time for prayer. I find it to be important, so even if it doesn’t work out when I planned it, I can always move it back to the next available time the same day, and if that doesn’t work, move it to the next until I’m able to do it, even if that means staying up late.
I won’t say I always have the drive I’m describing–I have definitely gone through seasons where I’m not pursuing God as hard as this. However, generally I keep coming back to this type of pursuit. I need and crave the nearness of God, and He says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (Jas. 4:8). I don’t know how else to personally draw near to Him besides talking to Him through prayer and reading His Word.
At least that’s the way I have been. Then I started fostering, and it knocked me sideways.
I dropped almost everything I had been doing: my book club, my prayer group, this blog, exercise, and on top of all that, my dedicated time of prayer and Bible study. I’ve had babies before that changed my schedule, but this newborn came with extra doctor’s visits, documentation, agency visits, CPS visits, WIC meetings, twice weekly parent visits, etc. Not knowing exactly what age child would come into our home beforehand, I also needed to quickly pull together all that a child needs (so, so thankful for the friends who helped me with this). I didn’t even do all that foster parents normally do: monthly visits with the foster child’s lawyer and attending court, but I was still working part-time, ferrying my kids to extracurricular activities, and homeschooling my boys, so it was a lot.
We were only privileged to care for our little one for two months. I believe I would have adjusted eventually to the new load and found the time to spend more time with God again. I would have also added exercise back in–I certainly need that for my sanity.
I did start reading short devotionals when I could–little tidbits here and there. I never dropped prayer–I was relying heavily on God for a lot–but my prayer looked a lot different. I wasn’t able to spend large chunks of time praying for the people in my life, only for those that came to mind as I went. But my prayers were desperate, more heart-felt than normal.
Is this why I didn’t at all feel that God was far away from me like I have felt when I’ve gone through seasons where I didn’t spend long amounts of time with Him? In fact, I felt His presence everywhere and in everything. Even the little snatches of Scripture I would read held infinite meaning and importance for me. I would beg for something, and He would answer powerfully and quickly. He filled my every need. He gave encouragement when I sorely needed it. Maybe even though I couldn’t physically be with Him, my heart was closer to Him than normal? This WAS my drawing near.
This verse penned by David comes to mind: “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Ps. 51:16-17).
It’s not that God didn’t ask the people in David’s day to sacrifice to Him. He did. They were to follow the Law. We ARE to dedicate time seeking Him in prayer and Bible study. But what is the state of our heart while we do it?
I recall now that several months before our foster baby came, I realized that a lot of my prayers were stilted, forced. I made the time for Him, but I didn’t have much feeling behind my words, not much connection. I started praying for that connection as I was prayer walking through the woods one morning a few months ago, for a passion to be lit in me.
Was fostering His answer to me? If so, how do I keep that desperation even when my life has become easier? This will be my prayer. I hope it will be yours, as well.