Daily devotions don’t always stick. Quiet times are hard. I know I’m not the only one who has started a new time-alone-with-God program only to have it fizzle in a month (or a week, or a day…).
Ever since we welcomed our first son in 2012, I’ve found devotions to be even more of a challenge. There are days I don’t get to enjoy my coffee warm, much less read anything. Once I’ve missed a few days in a row of time alone with God, the guilt can start to outweigh my desire to get back in the saddle again.
Anybody with me on this?
Sometimes I try to make up for the lost time and catch up on all the readings I’ve missed, but that’s like drinking from a fire hose.
Other times I start from where I left off, but then I’m off the reading plan and worry that I’ll never know what happened in chapters 2-4 of Nehemiah! (I think they probably finish that wall, but who even knows…)
Still other times I try to make my sermon prep count as devotions, but Sunday worship prep and soul-care generally aren’t the same thing.
So for all you other busy folks out there – for moms or dads or students or grandparents, for those who are working for the man or who are the man, for you who are holding down three jobs or keeping three kids alive, for anyone who barely has ten minutes to themselves in a given day, let me introduce Ten Minute Thursdays.
Each Thursday I’ll post a ten-minute devotion centered on a verse or three of Scripture. It’s no substitute for deep biblical study or weekly worship, but hopefully it will be a breath of life-giving air near the end of a busy week.
From John 3:
3 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night. He’s ashamed, afraid, and uncertain. He wants to hide.
How often do you want to hide? Here in our postpartum house, I’ll admit to trying to keep a well wisher out on the doorstep more than once. If I let them in, they’ll see our mess. (And seriously – it is MESSY in this house right now!) I’m ashamed of the laundry on the sofa, the unvacuumed carpet, the dirty dishes in the sink.
We all have moments when we’re ashamed of our homes. But how often are we ashamed of Jesus? Nicodemus doesn’t want anyone to know that he’s interested in this wild-eyed rabbi.
Yet Jesus is a constant straight-shooter. He doesn’t beat around the bush. He ignores Nicodemus’s compliment and gores straight for the heart of the matter. No one can see God’s kingdom unless they are born again. Transformed. Made new.
This transformation is far from easy, but it is completely free. Jesus offers it to each of us, even if we try to keep him out on the doorstep so he doesn’t see our mess. Yet this transformation can’t happen unless we let him in.
Nicodemus lets him in. We only hear of him twice more in Scripture. He appears in John 7, encouraging the Pharisees to give Jesus a fair hearing. He has moved from coming to Jesus in secret to publicly advocating for him.
But his transformation becomes even more beautiful.
In John 19 Nicodemus, along with Joseph of Arimathea, ask for Jesus’ body. They tenderly care for it, embalming it with expensive myrrh and aloes, and they place it in Joseph’s tomb. This courageous witness could have easily meant death for both Joseph and Nicodemus, and for what? Jesus was dead. They had nothing to gain from this selfless act.
Yet their lives had been so transformed by Jesus that even in his death they worshipped him.
Imagine the depth of their joy three days later.
What are you ashamed of? How can you invite Jesus off the doorstep and into your house?