How to Make Time for God: Lessons from Susanna Wesley
I always think I will be rested as I enter a new year, but that is rarely the case. Most of my time—at least as a college student—includes pushing through finals until a few days before Christmas. Then, I spend the remaining days rushing around to grab last-minute gifts, helping mom cook for family gatherings, and visiting family members. And just like that, Christmas is over!
Then we get to the other side of Christmas. . .ahh, time to sit down and get some rest. But by that point, I’m behind on all the things I had been originally planning to do throughout the Christmas season, especially catching up on sleep! But somehow it just doesn’t happen, and life continues on at that all-too-fast clip.
Can you relate?
Amid the chaos, time with Jesus often goes on the back burner. Though we have good intentions of spending time with him, it just doesn’t happen. The craziness around us and within us can easily skew our priorities.
I recently met a woman who didn’t seem phased by this kind of chaotic life, though. A pastor’s wife and mother to thirteen children, it seemed to me that Susanna Wesley wouldn’t have the time to spend with her Savior every day. But she did, without allowing those priorities to take the place of her first priority: her relationship with her Savior. Although Susanna is no longer with us in the flesh, her faithfulness to the Lord continues to influence me and many others today through an important habit I want to encourage you with as we begin a new year.
How Do I Make Time for God?
As I got to know Susanna through her letters and my own research, one big thing stood out: this woman did not have any extra time on her hands. Thirteen children were running around the house with constant needs, questions, or necessary conversations. So, I assumed that her time with the Lord happened rarely, if ever. But no! Upon reading some of her journal entries and letters to her grown children, I discovered that the opposite was the case. She carved out time at three different points throughout the day to spend with the Lord. Nope, I didn’t mistype there—I meant three!
If you’re familiar with Susanna Wesley, you might be thinking, “Well yeah, but that was John Wesley’s mother. Plus, she lived way back in 1742 when they didn’t have all the distractions we do now!” Although an argument could be made for that, I think we have something so beautiful to learn from Susanna’s practice.
What We Can Learn from Susanna Wesley
Two of these sacred times with the Lord happened at the beginning and end of the day; these were her two opportunities for meditation, reading, writing, and listening to the Lord. But her third time was left up in the air because at times throughout the day, her patience might wear thin and the temptation to give up could creep in (sound familiar?). To combat this, she simply went to the kitchen table, sat down, and put her apron over her head. Immediately, every child in the house fell silent. . .this was Mommy’s time with the Lord, not to be interrupted by anyone.
Susanna’s practices remind me of Paul’s admonition to the Roman church in the face of worldly temptations:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom.12:2).
Susanna recognized what I often fail to: if we go throughout the day believing we’re able to make it on our own, we’ll end up struggling and fighting and failing. I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually fall in a very comfortable place. Susanna, and others like her, have chosen to fall in the arms of the Father instead of falling into the devil’s traps.
I will concede, however, that forming this habit is not easy. The Lord never promised following him would be easy, but Susanna is a testimony to the strength and grace we receive by falling into his arms. Through her time with the Lord, she received the grace and strength necessary to carry out the demands of a pastor’s wife and mother.
2 Helpful Habits for Time with God
Wherever you find yourself today, I challenge you to make spending time with the Lord a priority. If we aren’t careful, we’ll cruise through this year on autopilot and allow it to slip by like other years have. But where would that get us? Instead, let me leave you with two habits I personally have found helpful in my relationship with the Lord:
1. “How did I see God today?”
Each day, record (either digitally or on paper) three ways you saw the Lord that day. Throughout the days, months, and years to follow; you can reflect on the ways he has been faithful every single day as he says in Lamentations 3:23:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
2. Find time to listen
Turn off your car radio on the way to work; run without headphones; go for a walk after work alone; spend some time down on your knees. He is a God who listens, but he is also a God who speaks.