God's Grace Is More Than Your Neglected Quiet Time
Have you ever gone longer than you care to admit without intentional time of being in God's Word? Yes you have. I have too. This is tough thing for us to admit even to ourselves at times. I remember there was a time in my undergrad when it had been over a couple weeks since I had a personal devotional time. To be honest, I hadn't really thought much about it until I was talking with a friend of mine who confessed it had been a few days since he had a time of devotion. Oh if you only knew, I thought.
There is a shame around neglecting God's Word and, to be honest, that is a good thing. We don't often perceive of shame being a good thing. That's probably because most of the social scenarios in which we understand shame it is most definitely a bad thing. To use John Piper's categories, there is misplaced shame (such as shame in the Gospel mentioned in 2 Tim 1:8) and well-placed shame (such as shame concerning sin as mentioned in 1 Cor 15:34). We feel shame when we neglect God's Word because neglecting it is sin.
Consider Psalm 1. It presents a picture of a righteous man and a wicked man. The most primary difference between these two men is their delight. The righteous man has his delight in God's word whereas the wicked (by the implied negation) does not have such a delight and so his foundation is fragile and fleeting. This is not coincidentally the entry into the Psalter so as to say that if the reader is to make sense of any of these Psalms, a heart check must first take place. Does the reader have a delight in God's Word or not?
You might be saying to yourself, with good judgement, that you do not always find yourself delighting in God's Word. Your delight stays for a while but then flees for a time. Does that mean you are the wicked man? Let me emphatically say NO! Allow me to explain.
We have a natural tendency as fallen people to attempt to establish our right standing before God on the basis of our own efforts. Sure, we can mentally assent to sola gratia and sola fide but the natural man wants to prove himself and boast for himself (I see Paul's wretched man section of Rom 7 to be evidence of this toil within the Christian experience). A dependence upon grace is not merely the ticket that gets you into Christianity, rather, it is the ongoing theme that pervades throughout. Here's the thing... we always forget. Martin Luther knew this well of himself and those he ministered to as he wrote, "Most necessary it is, therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into their heads continually".
Now how does this get back to my quiet time, you might ask. Friend, your neglect (and mine) of God's word is a serious thing. God's word is truth and life because by His word (without sounding too Barthian) we encounter Jesus Christ himself (John 1:14, Luke 24:27, Acts 8:35). But do not for a second think that your periods of withdrawal from God's word mean you have fallen from God's grace. Perhaps there truly is more power in boasting in our weaknesses (2 Cor 12:9, John 21:17). Our sins they are many, his mercy is more!