Today I welcome a woman who has been walking hand-in-hand with Jesus, seeking His true and right paths, for several decades. Yes, decades. Cynthia Heald is a Bible teacher and author of the popular Becoming a Woman Bible study series. She is known as humble, kind, and always ready to sit and visit over a cup of tea. It’s a grace to welcome Cynthia to share about living wisely on the farm’s front porch today…
One day, when I was reading Oswald Chambers’s My Utmost for His Highest, I was struck by his insight about a rather easily overlooked verse in Genesis:
“After that, Abram traveled southward and set up camp in the hill country between Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar and worshiped the Lord.”
Chambers writes, “Bethel is the symbol of communion with God; Ai is the symbol of the world. Abraham pitched his tent between the two. The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with Him.
Rush is wrong every time; there is always plenty of time to worship God. Quiet days with God may be a snare. We have to pitch our tents where we shall always have quiet times with God, however noisy our times with the world may be.”
As I meditated on these thoughts, I concluded that I needed a tent!
Since my journey usually takes me into Ai (the world) or to Bethel (which literally means “house of God”), I realized that I needed to pitch my tent (spend time with God) between the world and my times in church.
Because I was in church only once or twice a week, I knew that if I wanted to keep my hand in God’s, I needed to spend time alone with Him, one-on-one, every day. In order to do this, I found a “tent” and put my “altar” in it.
My tent is a cloth bag in which I have placed my altar: my Bible, a journal, and a devotional book.
I usually include a Bible study book or a current book that I am reading. A tent can be a special bag, a backpack, or a briefcase—anything that is portable and can be taken with you whenever you leave your home.
My tent stays near my chair in my study, and it’s ready to be pitched early in the morning.
But if circumstances keep me from spending time with the Lord at the beginning of the day, I pick up my tent and take it with me when I leave the house. (In fact, I take it with me even if I already have had time with the Lord.)
Then throughout the day, I look for pockets of time when I can pitch my tent—unplanned times of waiting or having a few extra minutes before a commitment.
I can set up my tent in an airport, a doctor’s waiting room, a coffee shop, a library, a park.
If you work outside your home, it is helpful to have your tent available so that you can pitch it during a coffee break, lunch, or in your office or car before you drive home.
I have found that I am much more consistent in spending time with the Lord because I always have my tent with me.
I prefer starting the day with the Lord, but I’ve found that’s not always possible.
For many years, I thought that time with God could take place only when everything was quiet, but as Oswald Chambers said, “Quiet days with God may be a snare.”
The snare in my thinking is that if I missed the early-morning quiet time, then I would have to wait until the next morning to spend time with God.
It has been freeing to have my tent ready to pitch whenever I can find a few moments to myself in the midst of a busy world.
The blessing of always having my tent with me is that I can be more consistent and creative in my time with God. It’s not a ritual, and it’s not bound by the parameters of time or place.
I’ve found over the years that consistency is more important than the length of time I spend with the Lord.
Anytime I stop and intently read His Word with an obedient heart, I find that the Scriptures are “full of living power … sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires.”
I need the cutting edge of the Scriptures daily, and I have found that any amount of time I spend reading the Word is always profitable.
Pitching my tent has also allowed the Lord to superintend my “busyness.”
One time, I committed myself to reading to children enrolled in the Head Start program. God gently but firmly spoke to my heart and said, Cynthia, there will be a season in your life when it will be appropriate for you to read to these children, but for now, I think it’s best that you stay home and read to your own children.
I would not have heard these thoughts if I had not placed my hand in His and begun to sit at His feet.
The best thing I can do for my family is to walk with God.
The best thing I can do for my church is to consistently pitch my tent.
The very best thing I can do for myself is to keep my hand in His. (This is especially true and necessary for single moms.)
It’s not a choice between sitting (Mary) or serving (Martha).
For me, the sitting is a prerequisite to knowing the serving that is God-directed, that furthers His Kingdom, and that is right for me.
Personally, I feel that when the Lord says, “There is really only one thing worth being concerned about,” we need to listen seriously to what He says.
Maybe God is right after all!
Pitching my tent keeps my hand in His and makes it possible to choose the good part, to rest, to have some semblance of balance in our lives, and to receive His help.
Abiding in Christ empowers us to live wisely.
Living Wisely is a lifetime of wisdom from mentor, Bible-study writer, and best-selling author Cynthia Heald. Cynthia offers ten take-along truths that continue to be tested and proven in her own journey, to equip readers to make godly choices at the crossroads of their own life circumstances.
Cynthia Heald is best known for her Bible study series, Becoming a Woman. She speaks frequently for church women’s retreats and seminars nationally and internationally. Cynthia and her husband, Jack, serve with The Navigators and live in Tuscon, Arizona.
“I have lived long enough to know that choosing to live faithfully surpasses any fleeting pleasure I might obtain by yielding to temptation. What I have discovered over the years is that God’s desire for me to be faithful is an expression of his love for me.”
Living Wisely points you toward the truths of Scripture so you can live well in the midst of a world that doesn’t understand true wisdom. The book includes compelling stories from Cynthia’s life, the lives of other women, and Scripture that inspire women to follow Christ’s transformative way, no matter what.
[ Our humble thanks to Tyndale for their partnership in today’s devotion ]