Every afternoon we read together for half an hour. It's a tradition we've kept up ever since my siblings and I were wee things, and we've read everything from Dickens to Montgomery to Stevenson to Milne. We've read swashbucklers, theology, biographies--even Economics in One Lesson. Most of the books were treasures. A few didn't quite hit the mark. But we've enjoyed this time, and guarded it fiercely over the years.
The book we just read would definitely make it to my top ten favorites. It's a non-fiction, actually. And it's a book about how to have a devotional life: A Place of Quiet Rest, by Nancy Leigh Demoss. Whether you're busy and skip devotions half the time, or whether you've done them every day of your life and they've become rather mundane, this book was written with both types in mind.
And it is my great pleasure to share it with all of you today.
From the back cover:
The God of the universe created us for fellowship with Himself! We realize this and even long for that sweet intimacy with God, but it often seems so out of reach. Yet even in the busyness of daily life, we hear those whispers calling us, drawing us to sit at Jesus' feet.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss demystifies the process of coming to know God intimately. In A Place of Quiet Rest she shares from her heart and life how a daily devotional time can forever change your relationship with Jesus. She addresses the common frustrations and pitfalls most of us encounter in our devotional life, and makes practical suggestions for overcoming them. Nancy gives us the encouragement--and tools--to seek after God for a lifetime.
Nancy's teachings, whether written or spoken, are always like a drink that quenches soul-thirst. She feeds women spiritually through her ministry, and doesn't offer sugary, watered down teaching. It's true bread and true water, because it comes straight from the Bread and Water of Life, and it reaches to the very hungriest, thirstiest corners of women's souls. This book about true devotional life was no exception. Some of it was challenging--the section about God using devotions to convict concerning sin was hard to face. But the challenging was truthful challenging, and grace and love permeated every section, whether convicting or comforting.
Our family doesn't often sit down and discuss a book with just the girls, and this was a new experience for us, but we loved it. Sometimes it's good just to have a heart-to-heart women's talk, and every day when we answered the study questions we enjoyed looking at them from that perspective. Mother-daughter question and answer times are wonderful for sharing hearts with each other. The structure already in the book made us feel safe, and I would highly recommend reading and discussing this book with a sister, a mom, or someone else in your family.
I've done consistent devotions for the last 13 years. (Don't be overwhelmed. Our family is strongly built on routine and habit.) But the difference between doing devotions and having fellowship with the Lord is huge. I knew there were lots of other people who missed many more days than I did, but who used the time they did manage to get to seek God's heart instead of check another thing off a list. I craved that, and this book helped me to better understand how I could develop that mindset too.
The thing that most awed me in reading A Place of Quiet Rest was that, yes, God wants me to desire fellowship with Him, but He also desires fellowship with me. The thought had never occurred to me before--that He wanted to know my heart as well as to have me seek out His. Devotions had always been about me giving the right things and saying the right words, and I never understood that it's a two-way street, and God wants to give to me during that time as well.
You cannot have intimate fellowship with someone if you don't think they take a concurrent interest in you likewise. For instance, when you meet a CEO of a corporation or a famous ministry leader, and talk with them, very likely you're not having fellowship. You're trying to act smart and carry on a conversation that you hope will impress them. But when you get together with close friends, you're secure in the knowledge that they love and take an interest in you, and you're not so keen about putting on an impressive façade. The same holds true in fellowship with God. We can't have fellowship with Him if we only see Him as a far-removed, Infinite Being, and forget to see Him as our Savior, our Bridegroom, and our Refuge.
The difference between Christianity and other religions is that our God is a personal God. He cares about people individually as well as corporately, and He is our Friend and our Shepherd as well as our Lord and our Ruler. And the beauty and wonder of Christianity is that God's fellowship with frail and sinful humans doesn't diminish His holiness or supremacy one jot.
Once I understood this concept--well, perhaps not understood; I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it--once I heard this concept from Nancy's book, I felt my devotions slowly changing. I wanted to talk to the Lord instead of considering it a duty. I felt my heart seeking Him more throughout the day, just to be with Him. I was more honest with Him, instead of giving carefully worded requests that were pretty basic and generic. And in His Word, day after day, I found fresh verses that said the Lord desired me. Confirmation after confirmation.
Perhaps this sounds incredibly selfish on paper--but I think those who know what it's like to look at our relationship with God mainly as what we can give to Him will get what I'm trying to say. It's the stunning realization that God doesn't just want a percentage increase out of us to make his Son's life worthwhile--but that he thought the investment was good and worthwhile in the first place, and He deeply loves the souls he invested in.
A wonderful and awe-inspiring truth.
If you want to breathe fresh life into your devotional time with the Lord, or if you just want a little bit of soul nourishment, check out A Place of Quiet Rest by Nancy Leigh Demoss. It will explain, convict, challenge, and encourage, and it's worth owning your own copy. A five star book.
We ladies have been deeply blessed by Nancy Leigh Demoss's Revive Our Hearts ministry. Check out her website where you'll find her newest radio show series called The Wonder of His Name--31 Names of Jesus. Whether you're familiar with her, or new to her teaching, I hope you enjoy these resources.