One of the interesting things about The Art of Homemaking conference was that most of the sessions were less about homemaking and more about our hearts as homemakers. I was very grateful to see each of the speakers emphasize our heart attitudes because this is truly where ministry to our families flows from. It was a great reminder to get first things first–to prioritize the spiritual over the physical.
Elizabeth George was one of the fist female authors I was introduced to as a new Christian. Her book A Woman After God’s Own Heart has had a tremendous impact on my life and I am sure many of you could say the same. This was the second time that I have been able to sit under her teaching and as always, her joyful, sweet spirit seemed to exude from the pulpit where she stood.
The hallmark of Elizabeth’s ministry has been the phrase “a woman after God’s own heart” which she takes from Acts 13 where Paul recounts God’s description of David as being “a man after my heart, who will do all my will.” Early on in her Christian life, Elizabeth was struck by this description of David and desired for the same to be able to be said of her. Since then she has filled numerous books by fleshing out what this heart attitude looks like for women in all stages of life.
Last weekend, in typical Elizabeth George fashion, she encouraged the women of the conference to make God the first priority in their homemaking with on simple challenge: meet with God each morning.
It is simple, but oh so hard to implement isn’t it? The excuses I could make to not come to the Lord first thing in the morning are numerous: I have three little ones who need me immediately (much more than God does!); I recently started homeschooling the oldest which has been much more time consuming (as well as wonderful!) than I ever imagined; the laundry is never done; the house is never spotless; I have this blog that I like to write at…. You get the picture. And yet, what is life–what is the point of all of these activities–if they are not grounded in and fueled by a vibrant relationship with the Lord?
Elizabeth reminded her audience that we can only live as women after God’s own heart one day at a time–each morning is a new opportunity to praise him and make much of his gospel. Keeping this in mind, she challenged us to start every day with him, so that we can live every day with him. You see, we can easily hop into the first task on my list for the day without every meeting with the Lord, but in doing this we deny ourselves the grace made available to us through his word and prayer.
This point was hilariously made as Elizabeth shared her temptation as a new believer (at the time she was a young mother) to put her quiet time off until the end of the day. Just before going to sleep she would read her Bible and pray and feel very encouraged in her faith, viewing things through the lens of Scripture. She benefited immensely in that short time before her head hit the pillow and she drifted off into dream land. Then the next morning she would quickly begin her day in her own strength, trying desperately to minister to her family well. The time she had spent with the Lord the previous night had little benefit on her day because an entire night had passed. She would drift off to sleep each night with a godly attitude, but struggle throughout the next day to keep Christ central to her thinking. Soon she realized the importance of starting her day off with sweet fellowship with the Lord so that it would have more of an influence on the rest of her day.
It takes a great deal of motivation to be able to meet with the Lord first thing each morning (especially when you have to beat the little ones up!), but Elizabeth had this encouragement from Jesus to give us:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5, ESV)
This is indeed motivating isn’t it? We can do NOTHING without relying on Christ. And what better way to exercise our dependence on him than seeking him each day in the Word and fellowshipping with him in prayer before we ever attempt to minister to others? In this way, spending time with the Lord first thing isn’t a mere discipline, it is an expression of the heart which communicates our utter dependence upon him. It is an admission that we need for him to infuse us with his strength–as Elizabeth phrased it–to be able to accomplish any good work. This is the fruit of the gospel. This is what Christ won for us on calvary and yet how often we do not draw from the well of nourishment our souls crave!
Lord, let us be women who seek you first and who have much to share with others as a result!