My kitchen counters tend to be the receptacle for just about anything anyone wants to throw on them. Did you find something on the floor in the kitchen? Stick it on the counter. Did I ask you to clear off the table for dinner? Put all that stuff on the counter. Did you have something in your hands when you came in the kitchen to get a snack? Leave that on the counter, too. It doesn't matter how clean my kitchen counter is at the beginning of the day, by the end of the day, it's usually heaped with stuff. If I let a few days go by, I can't even find my counter.
I'll admit, I'm mostly a clean it up every couple of days kind of girl. Cleaning off my kitchen counters is a never-ending chore like the laundry. As soon as I do it, I have to do it again. It seems pointless, so I put it off as long as possible, which just makes the chore that much more overwhelming when I finally get around to doing it.
This week, I started designating 15 minutes of my morning to cleaning off my counters, wiping them down and wiping off my table. I haven't mopped my kitchen floor this week, but my whole kitchen looks cleaner because the countertops are clear and clean. I no longer dread walking into the kitchen because of the clutter I know I'm going to find.
Yesterday, I was tempted not to clean them off. I had other things to do with that 15 minutes. However, I convinced myself that clearing the counters was important and spent the required 15 minutes doing that task. I was so glad I did when my youngest daughter came home with a mountain of papers from school. Instead of just adding to the clutter on my counter, I was able to go through those papers and keep them in a neat stack at the corner of the counter for her dad to look at when he got home.
Spending time with God is a lot like cleaning the counters. It's something we need to do every day, so our stress and sin don't accumulate. When we spend time with Him every day, we have a chance to wipe the slate clean -- every day. We get a chance to fill up with His love and grace so we can deal with everything that goes on that day. When we spend time with God each day, we clean out the old frustrations and sin, so they don't build up in our lives, making it harder to unroot them.
Hebrews 10:19-23 encourages us to draw near to God. "Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." Spending time with God, drawing near to Him, is a cleansing process just like wiping off the counters. Our time with Him cleanses our hearts and fills us up with the beauty of His love and grace, wiping away the ugliness of the things the world flings at us.
But spending time with God is as much a habit as cleaning off my counters each morning. It requires making a conscious choice to spend time with Him. Creating that habit is much easier if we learn it when we are young. Help your kids learn the importance of spending time with God.
- Be an example. Let your kids see you spending time with God. Give them opportunities to see you studying God's word and praying. You might want to save the bulk of your quiet time for when the kids aren't around, but do a short devotional or read a few verses of the Bible when your kids can see you.
- Make it part of the routine. Set aside a time in the day, every day, for your kids to spend some time with God. Even a 2-year-old can sit down for five minutes with a picture Bible to begin instilling the habit of spending time with God.
- Make a plan for your kids' quiet time. Buy them an age-ppropriate devotional. Give them a Bible reading plan aimed at their age group. Give older kids a prayer journal to write down their prayer requests in. Giving your kids structure to their quiet time helps them understand what they should be doing during that time.
- Talk with your kids about what they're learning during their quiet time. Ask them to share with you the verses they read or the insight they gained.
Spending time with God helps clean the counters of our lives. It allows us to refill, recharge and sets up our day to focus on Him. Teaching your kids this habit now will help them keep cleaning the counters of their lives as they grow.