I don't remember meeting Jerry and Shirley for the first time... probably 15 years ago or so. Time with them meanders between lighthearted laughter and deep seeded learning about married life, parenting, running a small business, walking with Jesus, and the list goes on! Like many of our mentors, Jerry and Shirley aren't perfect nor do they have all the answers, but there is one thing I am always certain of with them - every time we are together I gain something of great value, therefore, I always anticipate being with them.
I don't exactly remember when my focused prayer and study time became a daily thing - though I definitely remember when it wasn't! After college, I moved to a new city where I didn't know anyone. Throughout high school and college I held one and sometimes multiple jobs on top of a rigorous course load plus athletics (who needs sleep anyway?), so after graduation my mom asked that I consider not taking on any additional jobs besides my main engineering gig. I was trying to honor my mom, but, for the first time in my life, I had time on my hands and few people to share it with. Besides feeling lonely, slowing down allowed hurts and pains from my past to surface. As I sat staring at the walls one evening, I was so bored and so wanting to run from my pain that I chose to read my bible to fill that space.
The weeks and months of loneliness spurred my appreciation for God's Word and leaning more intimately into Him. Just like my relationship with Jerry and Shirley, I moved past the surfacey stuff and began asking God harder questions and becoming more transparent; the more I did that - the more I longed for time with Him. Sporadic, pop-off prayers throughout the day were no longer the depth of my relationship but instead became the thing that would tide me over until our next focused time together. Just like when you first fall in love, you can't wait to see him/her again - so you text, write a note or call throughout the day... but if all you had were those texts, would you be satisfied? Would the relationship grow any depth? At some point, I was no longer satisfied with a "text-depth" relationship and hungered for so much more.
I use to meet with God in the evenings, but marriage interrupted that! Now early mornings are the thing I long for... isn't that weird? Something about the quiet of our home in those hours; each morning, I am seriously full of anticipation. Every time we (God and I) are together in this space I gain something of great value. I'm not exaggerating... EVERY TIME. It's not a mind blowing experience every time, but it's always valuable.
...He calms my anxious heart.
...He reminds me of His faithfulness.
...I hear His creation chirping outside my window.
...I learn something new.
...I remember something I had learned before.
...He prepares me for my children and any other unexpected thing for the day.
...He puts people on my heart to set before Him.
...He assures me that He loves my husband and my kids as much as I do.
...I hear His promises over and over.
...He tells me who He created me to be
...He gives me ideas of how to love and serve someone that day.
...He tells me I am loved.
...He comforts me.
...He strengthens me.
...He motivates me.
...He calls me on my shenanigans (also called sin)
...He gives me grace when I tell Him about my sin.
...He shows me the way out of my sin.
...He shows me things that I couldn't possibly know or understand apart from Him
...And occasionally, He will put a vision in front of me that completely ROCKS my world - some of the things He's revealed to me during my prayer time include learning I was about to meet a man I would marry (at a time I refused to date), a vision for Celebrate Recovery at the church I was attending, placing adoption firmly on my heart, and calling me to step away from a career I loved (what?!?!). He did not fail me in any of these "world-rocking" experiences.
I don't know when I started having a devoted study and prayer time daily, but I know that it is now something I long for rather than something I "have" to do. The experience I have in meeting with the Heavenly Father is not unique to me... He desires to pour all of these things onto each person He creates. If there was a formula to get these types of results (there's not), it would probably look something like "trust + humility + consistency".
Today is the father of tomorrow. I've never regretted spending time with God today. Over and over again it has prepared me for tomorrow (and the next day, and the next day, and the next). It is good stuff.
(By the way, don't under estimate the value of moving past "text-depth" relationships with trusted people also - just like our relationship with Jerry and Shirley! I hope you have someone in your life that you can sharpen and someone that can sharpen you.)