Remember that classic children’s sermon about putting God first?
The one where the children’s minister uses sand to represent the unimportant things in our life. She uses small golf balls to represent the quasi-important things in our life. And she uses a tennis ball to represent God?
Then she puts the sand and golf balls into a jar and tries to fit the tennis ball in on top of them?
It doesn’t fit.
But when she puts the tennis ball in the jar first, there is miraculously, enough room for it all.
I’ve watched various pastors use that illustration many times.
And it represents a fact of life that I know to be true.
If we don’t put the most important things in our life first, then those things stand a very low chance of getting done.
Because life happens.
Things get in the way.
And there are always “fires” to put out.
Before we had two kids in school full-time, and before Kory stepped into a new ministry role that keeps our family much busier, we did a really good job of putting God first at the start of our day.
Every morning, we would sit down for breakfast as a family. And after we were done, we would do a short devotional together, followed by family prayer. Rarely was there a morning that we didn’t make this happen.
It set the tone for the rest of our day. A really good one. Even when our devotions were on the developmental level of a preschooler and involved a pop-up book! (We’ll take what we can get.)
But when we moved, and our second child began full-time schooling, this became an enormous struggle for us. The day started much earlier, there were many more tasks to “check off” the list before we sat down to breakfast, and something always seemed to steal the 5-10 minutes we needed to spend our time together with God.
It was frustrating.
And every day we didn’t squeeze it in, I felt like a failure.
I know — there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
My head knew this to be true but my heart was heavy. This was something that I really wanted for our family, and I just couldn’t seem to deliver it.
When I was at She Speaks this summer, though, I heard a fresh word on the importance of putting God first. You see, I always considered the fact that we did our devotional at breakfast as being the equivalent of putting God first. But when the speakers began talking about Proverbs 31 Ministries’ new devotional app, First 5, they spoke in terms of giving God the very first 5 minutes of our day. (If you have not downloaded this app to your phone, I encourage you to do so immediately! I read First 5 before I even put my feet on the floor, and the weekend wrap-up discussions are a fantastic way to kick-off a Saturday morning!)
Why hadn’t I thought of this before? This idea of giving God the very first five minutes of our day?
So when I came home, I spoke with Kory about it, and we decided to tweak our morning routine for this school year. Instead of waking the kids up and instructing them to get dressed, make their beds, and tidy their rooms before coming downstairs, we are asking them to come downstairs for devotion in their jammies before we do anything else.
It allows us to set our thoughts on the Lord before we do anything else.
It gives us a few minutes to wake up and just “be” as a family before the rat race starts.
And it sets a tone of peace and love that helps us dodge the temptation to lash out at one another when things get stressful. (And they do so often get stressful on school mornings no matter how hard we all try.)
In recent years, in addition to it being a struggle to find the time for devotion, it’s also been a struggle to find a devotional resource that works well for all three of our kids. I think that results from the fact that the developmental distance between our oldest (10) and our youngest (4) has gotten quite noticeable. However, at Family Camp this summer, we were given a devotional that does the trick!I like this book because each family time provides an ice breaker (which is great for sleepy heads), a big idea, a short passage of scripture, a thought for discussion, and a theme for prayer. It’s just short enough to tackle on a school morning but meaty enough that the time is well-spent for everyone. Even for Kory and me. I think this book will grow well with any family and can be used even in the teen years for good, thoughtful discussion.
Our devotional time now looks like this:
1. We wake up and gather in the den.
2. I start the conversation with the ice breaker, asking each child to participate.
3. One of the older kids reads the scripture.
4. Kory and I facilitate the discussion.
5. Kory closes us in prayer.
It takes less than 10 minutes, but we’ve already had some great discussions about who God is:
He is unique.
He is the creator of the universe.
He is our father.
And He is our provider.
It’s becoming a special time, one that I’m looking forward to each day.
And after it’s over?
Then, we hit the ground running to tackle our morning routine! And things seem to be going just a bit more smoothly as a result.
I don’t know where you are in your journey of time spent with God as a family. Maybe you figured this out a long time ago. And if so, congratulations! I’d love to know how you’re cracking this nut. But if not, I would encourage you to prayerfully consider adding a family devotional to your morning routine, offering to God the very first few minutes of your family’s day.
To get you started, I’m giving you a chance to win a copy of All In, Sky Ranch Family Devotionals!
To enter, visit a Rafflecopter giveaway and follow the prompts. It’s that easy! The contest is open to U.S. Residents only. The giveaway closes at 12:00 a.m. CST on August 31, 2015. The winner will be selected using rafflecopter.com and announced on September 3, 2015. The winner will have 48 hours to reply to an email notification or another winner will be chosen.
Good luck! And don’t forget to share this post so your friends can enter too!
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” – Mark 1:35