Systems without Legalism. My quest to find it.

“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”

-John Piper

I’ve learned a thing or two about myself in the 35 (and a half *gulp*) years that I’ve been alive not the least of which is that I’m an organizer. I love systems and plans and moleskins and lists. Even the clothes in my closet are hung according to colour and style.

I’ve always been a list maker but I’m pretty sure I learned my current organizations tactics when my kids started school. With the starting of Kindergarten there are a ton of things one needs to remember. Things like permission slips need to be signed and returned by certain dates, home reading needs to be done each day and returned on a certain day of the week, each child has a certain day for their ‘sharing’ and library books need to be returned on time or your kids feel like total losers. Add in professional days (so I’ve totally driven my kids to school only to wonder why no one else is there! ha!), early dismissal days, dentist appointments, after school sports and early morning clubs and I would be a whirling mess if not for some of the things I’ve put in place.

For one, I live by my daytimer and calendar. Each say pretty much the same thing but one is in my room and with me in my bag wherever I go and the other stays put in the kitchen. I look at each every day to keep me on track, to keep my kids where they need to be and to make sure we don’t have overlapping conflicting schedules. Plus, it means we can sleep in on those professional days instead of rushing out the door unnecessarily.

I’ve also been a fighter of legalism for my entire adult life. I’ve had to unteach myself some of the legalistic that i learned in life and some that I just assumed along the way and I’ve had to reteach myself and my children that there is freedom in loving Jesus and not just rules and denial and hard, hard work. For someone who loves systems as much as I do, this isn’t easy I assure you.

It means many conversations about how people can smoke cigarettes and still love Jesus. It means that just because someone may say a ‘swear word’ doesn’t mean that they’re going to Hell. It means that we can have a beer or a glass of wine without becoming drunk and still be a follower of Christ. It means that in everything we do it all comes back to the heart of it and not the precise action. It means that we focus on keeping the main things the main things and let some of the secondary issues go.

That’s my mighty long-winded lead up to this. My bible has never once hopped into my lap and said, “Read Me!” Nor have I randomly found time in the midst of a busy schedule where I think, “Forget the laundry and vacumming, my bible needs to be read!” I just doesn’t happen. At least in my world. Maybe in yours?

This is where my two processes come together and butt heads slightly. Systems in place. No legalism banner waving. Do you catch my dilemma?

I’ve reconciled it this way. With systems! Because I know that the word of God is important. More important than anything else in my day. I also know that without systems it gets missed. So without being legalistic, and simply being smart and responsible, I’ve created what works in my life.

I’ve been asked numerous times how I find time to study the bible, memorize scripture, pray and read various material that helps me to grow in my faith and in my journey as a Christian. There’s only one answer. I make it. It’s carved in stone. Today we’ll just tackle reading scripture. And remember, this isn’t the only way. It’s just a way that I’ve found has worked to keep me consistent.

For me that means my alarm starts gently singing me awake at 5:30 each morning. I have never been dedicated to getting up this early in the morning for anything! ANYTHING! Not the gym or work or an.y.thing. So don’t play one of those, “oh she must be a morning person” cards on me. I assure you nearly every morning I want to shut the alarm off, roll over and snuggle back in to bed for just a few more minutes. But the thing that keeps me rising day after day at this crazy hour is that it’s worth it.

This gives me half an hour each day to read scripture. It’s not a lot. And it certainly doesn’t get me through the bible in a year but that’s okay. Ive done that other years and ive found, for me, at this stage in the game I prefer slower, deeper study. So, I plug through. Slowly. Steady. Knowing that quantity is not important. What’s important is that I’m devoting my time and energy to being in the word. To studying it. To reading and re-reading and praying through the text. To mulling it over in my mind while I’m blowdrying my hair or while I’m driving by myself. To think on it in the quiet parts of the day. It gives me focus and it challenges me every single day.

If half an hour seems undoable to you, try reading one verse. Surely you can do that in less than one minute each morning. You can do it while your stirring porridge on the stove top or while you’re nursing a baby. You can do it before you allow yourself to check out instagram or your email each morning. You can do it when you first crawl into bed in the evening or while your car is warming up in these cold winter months. There are a thousand ways to do it and I challenge you to find a way that works for you! Start with a verse, consistently, each day. When this becomes normal, make it two or three. Soon enough you’ll be filling your head and your heart with the words of Jesus. A practice I assure you will not be time wasted.

Read again the quote from Piper that started off this post. Can we really claim that we don’t have time for scripture? Or prayer? Or spending any sort of time in the study of God’s word? I think not.

If you have a system that works for you, that you’ve figured out while raising small children, or working shift work or whatever (!) would you consider sharing it with us? For the benefit of those reading who may be in your same position? I’d so appreciate learning from you…


2 thoughts on “Systems without Legalism. My quest to find it.

  1. Hey Rhonda,

    I can totally relate on wanting, no NEEDING a system for Bible reading and yet not being legalistic. I’m happy to share as I’ve definitely struggled with getting the Bible into my every single day routine and with ever changing schedules, this is how it works best for us.

    With two young kids (age 2 and 3 1/2) who wake up anywhere between 5:30 and 7:00am, what we’ve found that works is to read the Bible during breakfast. If we have time, Bjørn or I read, if not, we do the audio Bible and listen. Sometimes the girls are with us, sometimes not. We’ve been slowly training the girls that this is time for them to be quiet. They can join and listen or go and play. The main point we want to make is simply that the Bible is important to Mommy and Daddy.

    We chose a slower paced Bible plan this year, so that we can easily make up days we miss and only read a couple of chapters a day. Though I’d love to have quiet to ready and study, I start with the reading plan in the morning. And then add in a few minutes or longer of deeper study during nap time or in the evening.


  2. Thanks for sharing what works for you, Jenny! I love the fact that the girls may or may not choose to participate but either way, they see you guys in the Word. It’s so important that we model that for our children. When I’m reading my bible it’s the one time that the kids are not allowed to interrupt with questions. They can come and snuggle but they know my time here is sacred! Thanks again for telling us how you do it!


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