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I promised not to leave you hanging! Here are some abridged entries from my journal from days 3-5 of my personal "retreat" week. This week produced so much spiritual fruit that I am continuing to benefit from! To God be the glory!
Day 3: (Monday, May 16)
All I can think of to start this journal off with today is I’m so glad I’m doing this! It is so true that when you put God first in your life—not just say he’s first put make him your first priority-- and eliminate the things that drown out His voice, He reveals Himself in all His glory! I’m only a few days in to this week long “challenge”, but God has revealed so much to me already and He is guiding me to find appropriate balance in my life and walk in His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how God will make connections between many different resources that I’m using at the same time. God never ceases to make connections between my multiple sources, and the things He reveals are always the Truths that I need in that very moment! I praise Him for His sovereignty!
I added Facebook back in in the afternoon hours today, as I planned to do. It felt good to get on and catch up on some things I missed, but I was reminded that it doesn’t satisfy my soul like my time actively seeking God does. It is a way of keeping in touch with family and friends as well as networking and meeting people with similar interests. But, it’s not soul food. As of right now, I plan to stick to the “No Facebook during the morning hours” rule. I can feel the “needing to be plugged in 24/7” mentality losing its stronghold on me slowly, but surely.
I haven’t added any TV back in yet except for YouTube videos on Biblical teachings. I intend for the guidelines around TV usage to be fairly like those for social media usage. TV usage is much less problematic for me than social media, but there are still certain shows that affect my mindset and pull me away from Christ. Those are the shows I need to abstain from completely. There are other shows I enjoy that don’t have that effect, but I found that my time was better spent doing other things today than turning on the TV, so I didn’t bother.
It is going to take some time to establish new routines and create new habits, but it is well worth it! I want to have the full armor of God on every single day, submit myself to Him, and resist the devil! I want to be spiritually strong so that I can fight the battle that goes on between my flesh and my spirit in a way that glorifies God. And, this challenge is helping me to do just that!
Day 4: (Tuesday, May 16)
Today was similar to yesterday, except for the fact that I added a ½ hour of TV back in today. It feels good to be able to enjoy entertainment (provided it isn’t in conflict with scripture) in an appropriate way. This challenge is changing my routines and the order in which I do things throughout the day. I used to wake up in the morning and look at Facebook first thing. Then, I would often get sucked in for so long that I’d wasted a good portion of my day. It was even to the point where I would be late getting places because I couldn’t get off social media. For a time, I did do a morning devotional before getting on Facebook, but I still spent most of the morning on Facebook. Now, I read a devotional while I eat my breakfast in the morning (as opposed to scrolling through my news feed) and, if I have extra time, I listen to a podcast, usually from the Desiring God website.
I used to also spend much of my evening on social media, sometimes trying to convince myself, for an hour or so, to get off and have my quiet time. I would often wait until I was so tired to have my quiet time that I didn’t get as much out of it as I could have. I was giving God my leftovers when He deserves my first fruits. Now, before hopping on social media or turning on the TV, I ask myself if there’s something directly related to my relationship with God that should be done first. That way, entertainment gets the leftovers, not God!
I also try to ask myself if there are any other tasks that should be completed before jumping into entertainment. Is my house a mess? Do I need to make any phone calls? Do I need to reach out to someone? Do I need to run an errand? These tasks have a lower priority than God, but they still have a much higher priority than entertainment! I am learning to be honest with myself instead of saying “I’m just getting online for a minute” when I know I intend to be on much longer than that and procrastinate the task at hand. I am by no means perfect at this, but I feel it is part of the balance that God is teaching me.
Day 5: (Wednesday, May 17)
One of the verses God has been using to speak to me this week is the memory verse for the week from the Bible study I am doing with my Bible study group. The study is called “Seeking Him” and the verse is Hosea 10:12: “Sow righteousness among yourselves. Reap the fruit of unfailing harvest and break up your unplowed ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.” That’s quite a challenge! At our Bible study meeting, we talked a lot about what it means to “break up our unplowed ground”. When a farmer breaks up unplowed ground, he’s preparing the soil to receive the seed and reap a good harvest. The process takes much time and effort. The same is true when breaking up the unplowed ground in our hearts. We must allow God to go deep into our hearts; to reveal things to us that we may have shoved to the back burner quite some time ago. This can be a painful process, but it’s impossible for us to receive all that God has for us if we don’t endure it. And, it is possible to endure it when we depend upon His strength.
I continue to be very grateful for all that God has revealed to me throughout this “challenge week” so far. So far, the habits I’ve created have been helpful, so I plan to continue them. My hope is that they will become even more ingrained in my routine and feel less foreign as time goes on. But, my mind has been racing so much less this week. My mind is going back to God as a “home base” rather than to worldly things. I want that to continue to be the case, so I know I must continue to intentionally make God the number one priority in my life every day.
Keep your eyes open for my next post, where I will discuss how I am continuing to reap the fruits of my "retreat" week! I hope you are enjoying this series as much as I am!