If there is one practice more than any other that has tamped down anxiety, worry and fear over my lifetime, it is the (almost) daily practice I call Breakfast with God.
Whether God and I hang out at Panera Bread or at my kitchen table each morning, I spend time reading my Bible and then journal a few thoughts of what I believe God is saying to me. I follow that by writing a few items of gratitude, a list on which Panera’s iced tea appears more often than not. I spend some time praying, mostly for others, and then try to sit quietly and allow God to set my daily to-do list. (I explain this concept more thoroughly in my book, Finding Balance in the Circus of Life, if you’re interested in how that part works.)
The advent of that habit was 50 years ago now. The junior high youth leaders who gave us Word of Life Quiet Time Diaries and, yes, rewarded us for completing those daily devotions, changed my life. To be honest, there were some weeks when I did a week’s worth of entries in one day, just before heading to youth group, so I could earn those credits toward camp (Word of Life, of course). But that (almost) daily discipline of completing the three questions in the diary:
* What does it say?
* What does it mean?
* What does it say to me?
became a lifelong habit that has freed me so much from worry. I am so thankful for those leaders.
My parents also set an example of daily times in God’s Word. I can picture my mom sitting in the living room rocker reading her Bible. I saw my dad pull out his pocket Bible when he had a few moments, in those in-between times when today we might peruse social media. They soaked in the Scriptures and it leaked out of their lives, even onto me.
I’m pretty sure that upstairs in my memory totes, I still have those diaries. There’s nothing profound written in them; after all, I was a preteen—and remember some of them were written all in a hurry on the same day. Even today, in my aged state, I still rarely write anything world-changing. And yet I write.
And here’s the thing. All those days, over all those years, has allowed me to marinate in the Scriptures. What has seeped into my heart, my soul, is that God is God and I am not. That God is awesome (in the true, awe-inspiring sense) and capable of handling it. That I can trust him, with my life and with my day. And that’s a true antidote to worry.
No matter how life’s twists and turns cut into my heart, confidence in God oozes out. It doesn’t mean life never get me down. But when worry, anxiety or fear rise up, so does my hope in God. So do the memory verses that I also learned in my youth:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul.
You may not have been fortunate enough to have had Quiet Time Diaries. But it’s never too late to start reading Scripture and inviting God to speak to you, yes, about your life, but even more so about who he is. Jump in!