"He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." Psalm 40:2

Routines to keep when your routine is lost

In my last post I shared one truth I’d found to be true once again as I’ve experienced our family’s recent move. I’d like to share another related truth which was also reconfirmed to me during this time:

We must strive to put God first, always.

The truth is, if we don’t strive to put God first, then He won’t be first.

Many professing believers allow the busy-ness of their daily lives to prevent them from putting God first. Some seasons of life are more challenging in this regard than others.

Moving is one of those seasons in which even the most faithful families are tempted to put God on the back burner. So much is pressing and urgent. Each member has expectations that may or may not be realistic, and each member has their own range of ability and energy. The familiar routines, meals, and sounds are diminished, and each person responds uniquely to these changes. Each member is tempted to have a spirit of impatience – or frustration, anger, outright selfishness – as the tendency to walk in the flesh has to be consistently knocked down.

For the duration of time that our routine is thrown out the proverbial window, what critical elements of our routine should we strive to keep, in order to keep our priorities in order? This is not at all exhaustive, but here’s my “top five” list:

Personal Devotions – If you don’t spend time with God regularly, then start. Even Jesus Himself went off alone to pray, why on earth do we presume we don’t need to?

Even those of us who do normally spend consistent time in the Word and in prayer are tempted to put it off during a move. We wake up and there’s so much to be done! Just do it – have your time with God – commit to it, set a time, and do it. Abiding in Him is how good fruit is borne, and I for one really, really don’t want to be throwing rotten tomatoes the whole move. I need Him.

This is one critical area in which you can set a powerful example for your children. Let them be aware of the fact you strive to have daily time in the Scriptures and prayer. Let it be obvious that you are passionate about it, just as any other passion of yours would be obvious. Don’t allow yourself to be annoyed or thrown off if they catch a glimpse of you during your quiet time. If the day is getting off to a late and/or rocky devotion-less start, excuse yourself for a time of devotions and have them do the same if they’ve missed their own.  Now, if they don’t already have a daily personal devotion, I don’t recommend ordering them to begin during a move (but do encourage them to, and help them start a devotional routine as soon as you begin your new routine post-move!). If they do already have a daily devotion time, then set the standard by keeping their Bibles unpacked and available, and giving them a time each day when they can read a few chapters and pray. We can’t be too dependent on Christ, and we can’t teach our children to be too dependent, either.

Family Worship (at least in some form) – Like your children’s personal devotions, I wouldn’t recommend forcing this one as a new item during a move. It’s already a challenge to begin family worship for the first time if you haven’t done so when your children are small.

We’ve been doing family worship/family devotions consistently for several years now, and though we did not succeed in having worship every evening during the move, I noticed that when we did maintain this time together the Lord used it mightily in us all. The kids had the open opportunity to share and pray about their concerns, we had that peaceful window when all the chaos stopped and we listened to God’s Word and prayed together, and we were better able to maintain proper focus and godly attitudes.

If you do family worship, don’t put it on hold during a move. At least gather to chat for a few minutes and pray together as a family. The benefits of worship together and the example of proper priorities set for your children far exceed the extra few minutes of packing you may have missed.

Personal Evangelism – The Great Commission doesn’t have a clause of exemption for seasons of transition. We mustn’t become so self-focused that we quit caring about the lost (or never begin to care!!). God’s fully in charge of salvation, yet He in His infinite wisdom has chosen to use lowly man to spread the Word. In His sovereignty He places people in our paths at the particular time He appoints — no meeting is accidental. Each interaction we have is an opportunity to plant and water seeds of the Gospel and to give an answer for the hope that is in us.

During a move we have whole new circles of people that we meet and interact with — we mustn’t lose those opportunities! From real estate agents and landlords, to home inspectors and closing attorneys, to bank tellers and furniture delivery men and new neighbors, we are blessed during a move with an opportunity to touch so many souls! Give a tract to your delivery men with their tip. Swing your conversations to the spiritual whenever possible. It really is okay to bring it up. In my experience in America, rarely is anyone offended when I approach them in love. I often begin by asking if there’s anything I can pray for them about or asking about their spiritual beliefs, and most are flattered and ready to discuss spiritual things with me.

I had a great conversation with a real estate agent during this move, and am praying for her and her family to come to Christ. Praise God I have open communication with her so I can follow up! Praise God that He can use messed up people like you and me!

We must follow the Lord’s leading, and keep our eyes open for the multitude of opportunities to share the Gospel with those we encounter as we go about our day — even when we’re in the middle of moving.

A patient, kind spirit – Why is it that during a move we tend to not only neglect our quiet time and allow ourselves to shift and weaken spiritually, and we not only fall into grumpiness, impatience, and unkindness, but we also embrace it?! Let us not allow life changes to so easily throw us off course! Let us not tear down the household we’ve worked hard to build up in the Lord with our own hands! Patience and kindness do not ultimately come from a good night’s sleep, a cooperative child, a cheerful husband, or our own personal resolve (though all those things help!!). Patience and kindness come as fruit of the Spirit from abiding in Christ. We must, must abide in Him — AND we must, must strive to be patient and kind even during the most trying times. If not, then our Savior is dishonored, our household is damaged, and our witness is compromised. Let us plead in prayer for His patience and kindness in us, especially when it’s hard.

Devotion to and dependence upon God – Our lives are not meant to be made of neat little compartments, with some assigned to God and others not. Our devotion to God isn’t meant to be kept neatly in our church services and Bible reading, while our primary devotion in other “life compartments” is foremost to things of this world. Our dependence on God isn’t meant to be for Salvation alone, while we foolishly depend on ourselves for all else. Let us seek Him first, seek Him early, seek Him above all, seek Him before all. Let us seek Him in private, and seek Him before the eyes of our husbands and children. Even – and especially – when going through major life changes and decisions, we mustn’t shut God out. We must do the opposite: increasingly and more thoroughly devote our lives, our hearts, our families, our decisions, our attitudes, our activities, and our actions to Him and His Kingdom.

When I fail to recognize that God’s Word is true, applicable, and to be obeyed — or when I neglect to strive to put Him first — I cannot succeed. Not in the things that matter, anyway.

As the dust around me settles, I’m painfully reminded of the moments during this move I’ve failed at these things, and of the consequences. I’m also greatly encouraged by the moments that I’ve succeeded by His power and grace!

Let us never forget that His Word is true, and never stop believing it. Let us never cease from striving to keep our Savior at the height of our priorities. Sisters, let us abide in Him – even when we’re in the middle of moving.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)

P.S. I didn’t think to add this item originally, because in my mind it ought to go without saying. Yet after rereading my post above I feel compelled to add a 6th item to the list:

Gathering for worship with the brethren – Christian, please do not stop attending church just because you’re moving. Yes, Christianity is a personal walk and your Salvation is between you and God alone. At the same time, Christianity is also a corporate walk and Christ died to save His body and bride, the Church. God has designed corporate worship to be a vehicle of growth, grace, and benefits for all the parts of the body, and those parts which do not participate suffer.

(Thankfully, this time maintaining church attendance was easy for our household. We had been commuting about 80-90 minutes one way to the church plant we’re members of since the Lord led us there nearly a year ago, and then we ended up moving closer to that local body which we’re already a part of — so one huge benefit of this move is that we can now arrive at church after an ordinary 15-20 minute commute and can participate more fully in activities, outreach, and fellowship there. Praise God! That’s the first time our moving has affected our pre-move church attendance in such a positive way. Every other move has put us on the church hunt.)

Hopefully one of the first things your husband will do with you and your family is seek out a church home in your new town. Ideally, you’ll have an idea of where you’ll begin worshiping before you even get there. If not, please don’t put off the church hunt. Looking for a church home is hard, I know. Our household has been through the process many times. It’s especially burdensome for those with small children. As with personal devotions, I encourage you to just do it. It will be worth it. You might attend in un-ironed clothes or with paint in your hair. You may very well be shy, uncomfortable, tired, or apprehensive. But finding your local church body is important, and it’s something that you ought not to neglect.

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