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Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tithing our Time

                                                                      Courtesy of Google Images

I recently returned from a trip from Florida with my family. It was nice to see my in-laws again. It had been two years since my husband's mother had seen our children so it was a heart-warming reunion. As with any family vacation, though,  there was definitely a limit on the personal time each one of us had to ourselves. A whole new routine ensued. If it could be considered a routine at all, more like a chaos filled "jam everything you can into nine days" itinerary!

Family vacations, in my view,  seem more like family "boot camps", as the space that usually provides a nice cushion of personal comfort is stripped away and we oftentimes are left exposed to the personality traits in both ourselves and the others in our family that we find least desirable and on a regular schedule are digested in smaller doses. As a mother, who finds myself referring all of this and striving to keep the bickering to a dull roar, more than ever I am seeking clarity and a sense of peace and direction during such times.

It wasn't until the third or fourth morning, after a couple of days that consisted of many temper tantrums from the kids and harsh words from both my husband and I, directed at both one another and them, that I found myself waking up at four in the morning. Almost like clockwork, when my spiritual thirst is at its peak and oftentimes hasn't found its source for refreshment, I wake up at these hours to spend time with God. Eagerly, and very carefully, lest I rouse one of my slumbering children, I tip-toed down stairs to the living room.

After making a cup of coffee, taking some long sips, enjoying it's flavor and the feel of hot ceramic in my hands, a juxtaposition to the cool air in the living room, I eased myself upon an over-sized recliner, though not reclining, and opened myself to the Lord. Letting all thoughts rise up and then fall away, like gentle winds, attempting to distract, yet remaining transparent and fading from my internal view and perception. The winds picked up, distracting thoughts beckoning me to interpret them, alluring seeds promising to birth new thoughts rose up. I just let them fall, as Eknath Easwaran puts it, "like pearls into the sea of my subconscious".  It took some time, but eventually there were no thoughts, and a peace and love broke upon me, like the sun breaking upon a new day.

 Glory be to God for the mercy and strength, the hope and love He touches each of our souls with in our hours of spiritual thirst. We have only to seek and He will lay before us all the fruits our hearts desire.  Clarity in times of confusion.  Hope in times of despair. The sense of union with His infinite love when before entering His presence only a disconnect was felt, the clutter of the world crowding the pursuits of a heart reaching out to Him.

After my time with God, I settled back to write and pray. I realized how oftentimes irrational my words can be to my children. How I can lack compassion when they need it the most. I repented. I fall chasms short from any sense of being like Christ. Yet, we are expected to strive to conform to his character, a daunting task made only possible by His Spirit within us. Perhaps it's not wise to think of it as a  "task".  It's much more positive to see it as a natural progression, as we allow our hearts to be continually opened, more and more, by God's grace and love. Once open wide,  His light  flows unfettered and unobstructed through us and then naturally out to others. We are indeed His feet and hands, as Teresa of Avila once put it,

"Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world....".

Christ has the power to transform the world, if only we would let him work through us..

Reflecting upon all of this led me to realize that it is only after mornings such as this one, when I find time to open myself up to God, to seek Him in the throne room of my heart, to pray, to meditate, to write, that the rest of the day that follows is a much more fruitful and peaceful one than other mornings when I rise with my children and stumble through yet another hectic day. When I am filled with more peace and a renewed sense of discernment and clarity I am much more effective in living my life as God would have me and a lot more productive in the ways my family needs me to be.

All of this reminded me of the concept of tithing. Giving God the first fruits of our labor. When we give God the first fruits of our day, the first portion of time that we have in the morning that sometimes can mean the only time we have to ourselves for the whole day, He, in turn rewards us with unspeakable spiritual riches. He blesses us greatly because we are sacrificing something that is precious to us in order to honor and seek Him. Such an act acknowledges His glory and presence in our hearts and our humble need for Him to provide us with continued sustenance. It brings us closer to our Creator and allows our hearts and minds to have the opportunity to be renewed and strengthened, aiding us through the challenges of a new day.

Have you tithed some of your time today? Have you set aside a portion of time to spend with God? I have a confession. Though I have made a concerted effort lately to do just that, I find it very difficult to maintain a regular habit of it. Distractions abound, that's for sure! Just this morning, my son came down twice while I was meditating! But I firmly believe the more persistence we put into our practice, of entering  into His presence, the easier it will become to find opportunities to enter more into it. Even with the uneven gait in which I stumble through my practice,  contemplative moments have broken upon me spontaneously throughout my day and ordinary moments have become more and more permeated with His presence. And we all can experience such moments...all that's needed is a heart that simply seeks the Divine :)

Any thoughts? I'd love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments section! Thank you!


  1. As with any family vacation, though, there was definitely a limit on the personal time each one of us had to ourselves. A whole new routine ensued.

    Was chuckling at this, because it reminded me of my vacation last year and this blog post I wrote before leaving:

    Which MAY BE why I don't go on vacations all that much. Oh, yeah I STILL take time off but I seldom go away.

    Anyway that wasn't REALLY the reason for your post, was it, Jessica?
    I make time to communicate whenever the spirit moves me. Don't really have a time set aside. I have conversations throughout the day.

  2. I also find it so difficult sometimes although I know I need this precious time you describe. I need it more than anything else and yet I so often put it aside for other things. This post really moves me because I need spiritual refreshment...I can feel it. Without it I become tense, worried and anxious about all sorts of silly things, I am far less kind and patient...this list can go on and on. The way you describe getting up in the wee hours of the morning is just beautiful and inspiring. Thanks for all this to ponder today.

  3. Haha yeah Christopher...I'm definitely not a huge fan of vacations...at least family ones ;) I wouldn't mind a retreat now and then...though even the organized kind of retreat for the Christian- with classes, Bible studies, etc. still can clutter one's time, reducing genuine contact with Self and God. I'd rather have a retreat that involves me, a cabin and the woods and a week of solitude! But..that's probably too much to ask ;)

    Great that you have conversations throughout your day...that keeps the Divine consistent in your life...a beautiful relationship :) Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Colleen, thanks so much for stopping by :) I can definitely relate to how you feel when you describe yourself being spiritually thirsty. When I am like that I can oftentimes see the fruit of it as it is transcends from me to my fellow family members...not an ideal situation!

    I will pray that you find the time, whether in the morning, or in another quiet part of your day, to find spiritual nourshiment and find your heart renewed and restored :) ~blessings

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  6. I am spending time at the moment with my brother and his family whom I have not seen for a 1 1/2... My kids joined me here as well and I must say this time it has been wonderful.... There have been my time, and together time and their time... I am loving it here...
    My early mornings are my time.....

  7. Thanks for sharing sparkle :) So glad you and your family are enjoying your time together! the mornings are my time too..when I can seize them without them being snatched first! ;)

  8. Such an honest and beautiful post Jessica! I recently took up an afternoon walk and I use this time to speak to God. I walk +-45 minutes and use some meditation music. I love the ocean and I have chosen some music with the sound of the waves crashing and the birds. This helps me a great deal and I have time to speak to God and tell him everything that goes on in my mind. Last week I had a couple of days where not even the music could calm me down but amazingly after about 20 minutes I was so calm and the turmoil that I felt before I walked subsided. We really do serve a wonderful God!

  9. Amen to that Nelieta :) A wonderful God indeed. You raise a really great point in your comment...walking and other physical activities can be a great way of setting aside time to reflect, meditate and pray. Thanks :)

  10. Oh Jessica, I could very well relate with your experiences...as I am a homebody, I really feel a bit uneasy whenever I had to stay out of our house for a long time. But this is God's way of pulling us out of the easy comfortable life... so we could free ourselves of its routine...

    I loved how you allowed God to love you at those hours... I could almost feel your serenity after that experience...

    Be gentle and patient with yourself... and learn to discern the movements of the Spirit...

    Morning travels are spent with Him....Saturdays in particular for a Holy Hour. I'm not always faithful to the days, but I hear Him calling me so how can I ever resist?

    Thanks for your post...it's very enriching :)... I missed them actually :)

  11. Thank you Melissa :) It is truly a beautiful thing how you refuse to resist the beckonings of our Lord, as he draws you into times with him. I enjoyed your reflections...and it's so true...it's best to challenge ourselves out of our routines sometimes, lest we become complacent.
    ~blessings sister

  12. Jessica, I loved this post as I can relate to it on a daily basis. My father has lived with us since my mother passed away and sometimes I feel between him and my daughter, who I homeschool, I just can never get away to myself. I mean in total privacy, without interruptions. Thank you for sharing this!

  13. Jessica, what an inspiration, this message, which just goes to show that you have offered Him the first fruits of your time ;-) Your words exemplify the meaning of John 15:4. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
    We are fruitful only when we do tithe our time; when we abide in the Vine and just allow Him to infuse us with His Spirit. This morning I did indeed tithe my time, when I woke earlier than usual to spend time in His presence and absorb His strength and wisdom.
    Thank you for these beautiful and encouraging words!

  14. I love the idea of tithing our time - a whole new way of thinking...Thank you for the inspiration, Jess.

  15. Mary, so glad you enjoyed this post :) I can relate about finding it hard to have some quiet time. I will pray that you get windows of opportunity where you can grow closer and closer with God. Thanks for stopping by :)

  16. Debra, it's always a pleasure to have you stop in :) Thanks so much for your comment...I'm glad you were able to spend time with our Lord this morning! Great verse in John you shared as well. Thank you!

  17. Thanks for stopping by Corinne! Glad you enjoyed the post. :)

  18. There is so much about life that is soul killing, so it is definitely important to spend time each day repairing our spirit with whatever positivity heals us, even when we are on vacation. :-) Nice post.

  19. Thanks for stopping by Sweepy :)I agree, we should try to take the time everyday to receive spiritual nourishment...the benefits are priceless. :)

  20. Just plain beautiful, Jess! I think Florida was refreshing for you after the floods etc!! I like the thought of Tithing your Time!! Sure we can do that as well as tithe our lives to Him as well!

    Very well written and inspiring my sister!!