Every summer our family spends a week with extended family, where about 14 of us gather in one big cabin in a small, mountain town to play, sleep, and eat together. We watch hummingbirds from the kitchen window, walk many times a day down dirt roads to visit the lake, throw rocks in the river, and catch fish. It’s a slice of idyllic life and a time we look forward to all year.
This past week we spent the 4th of July together in this spot, and in the flurry of packing I forgot to include our copy of Good Dirt.
We have nine kids between the three families, ranging in age from 7 to 19. Several are teenagers, and last week as we got two or three days into the week some of them were needing to slow down and consider their words and their attitudes. It seemed apparent that even in idyllic locations we all need the Word and the Spirit of God to speak and guide our living. Even vacation days and cousin time need the breath of Life we get only from time with God.
So, Aunt B. pulled out my Bible and got the attention of the kids who were still having breakfast at the table and those who were in the adjacent family room, sprawled on couches and the floor. “Hey guys, it’s devotion time!”
With no Good Dirt, my mind turned to the letter of 2 Timothy, which was the book our church had been focusing on in a Bible reading plan we were doing together.
“Who knows who wrote the book of 2 Timothy? And who knows where he was when he wrote the book? Who was Timothy and why was Paul writing this letter?” We talked about all these background details and then read chapter 1.
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
The little kids knew this verse. Where did they learn it? VBS last summer! It was the theme verse and they remembered. We all talked about how God’s Spirit supplies us with these important qualities–power, love, and self-discipline.
Of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. [Yes, Paul was in prison and heading toward death, we had reviewed together.] Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. (2 Timothy 1:11-12)
My sister and I broke into chorus of that hymn we’d grown up singing, containing that last verse, word for word. And then we read on to chapter 2:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. …
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (2 Timothy 2:15-16, 20-21)
We talked about what it means to be holy, to belong to God and to live differently than some others in the world live. And then we prayed together. One of the teens volunteered to lead us.
We probably spent fifteen minutes talking and reading. Not a real long time. But I realized something that morning. Because our immediate family has been reading the Bible and Good Dirt these last six months, that time with the kids felt easy and natural for me as a parent. I didn’t need Good Dirt to prompt the questions or set the agenda for our reading. And I wasn’t worried about what to do or say with the kids. It all flowed pretty easily.
I think that is the ultimate goal of Good Dirt. Lacy and Ben haven’t said it in so many words, but isn’t the best part of a devotional like this the way it helps us as families enter into God’s Word together and let God form us, most of all through the prompting of the Spirit? The way we learn to spend time in the Word and with Jesus together so much more readily and naturally, no matter where we are or who is with us?
Thank you, God, for the beauty you bring to our lives when your Word enters us and colors our days. Your beauty surpasses all.