Site icon Liz Mannegren

Stuck in the Devotional Rut

**Post originally appeared on the Christ City Church blog in 2015 as
“When Devotions Aren’t Pretty.”**

Sitting on the porch under a soft, golden-hued sunrise, a woolen blanket draped around my shoulders, a steaming drink in hand and an open Bible in the other – this is what I’ve always dreamed of.  Like a childhood word-association game, this is the image that floats unbidden to my mind whenever I hear the words “morning devotions.”

This mental picture could have very easily been plucked off someone’s social media account. It’s flawlessly filtered, cropped, and splashed with cringe-worthy hashtags like #sunrisewithJesus. The epitome of an Instagram photo, it has somehow attached itself to my ideals of what devotions should look like. And since my devotions, in reality, look nothing like this, it ends up being yet another sobering reminder of my shortcomings.

I’ll be the first to admit that this past year of motherhood has rocked my devotional time (and not in an awesome party-rock kind of way.) It seems as if each day slips away in a blur of busyness, leaving me feeling exhausted and drained. It’s easy to flip on Netflix and tune out. How many times have I raced through my devotions, viewing it as simply another item to cross of my daily to-do list? How many nights have I fallen asleep before gathering the strength to grab my Bible off the nightstand table?

And it’s not as if I don’t have easy access to a Bible. Scattered around my house are half a dozen, different versions (not including the forty-six different English translations found on my iPhone!) I carry a digital copy around with me everywhere I go. But for some reason, the amount of time spent immersing myself in the Scriptures never equates to the number of Bibles on my bookshelf.

I’m quick to forget just how much this leather-bound book is worth. I get frustrated by the fact that my quiet time doesn’t include shimmering sunrises and confused as to why it’s so difficult to cram a few moments of scripture reading into my hectic day.

And that’s where the problem lies.

When we begin struggling to fill our verse “quota” for the day, we’ve already forgotten why we’re reading in the first place. We can get so tangled up in the numbers that we start viewing this time as a requirement for relationship rather than an act of relationship.

This “spiritual rut” is an experience that most of us encounter at some point in our Christian walk. Falling prey to the lie of obligation, we let our Bible sit neglected for days on end, feeling as if it’s a chore to open it. We fall behind on our “Bible Reading Plan” and are threatened by an overwhelming sense of guilt. But when we change our perspective and view our devotional time as an act of relationship, we begin to see the Word as something more than just an item on a religious checklist.

Because that’s what it all comes down to. We don’t study out of obligation or some stipulation for salvation. We do it because we love the Father and have a desire to know (and thus glorify) Him more.

Relationships aren’t always golden sunlight and rainbows, and this relationship is no different. I may dream of a cozy sunrise devotional time but this is not a realistic expectation for everyday life. Real life is messier. We’re human, we fall short; we cannot live out a “perfect” relationship.

This investment into relationship can be difficult. It’s seen in the struggle to read the scriptures, one line at a time, as you juggle babies or maneuver the city bus on your way home from work. It’s found in the feeling of exhaustion when you’re too tired to think, but you pick up your Bible anyway because there is strength there. It’s the act of sacrificing “your” time to seek after One greater than you.

Because that’s the thing about relationship – it’s not always pretty. But when we pursue Christ out of a desire to know Him, rather than a sense of duty or habit, it’s then that our devotional lives can be transformed into something truly beautiful.


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