I am about to go into HMP Stocken, two hours from home, when my mobile rings. It's school. "Mum, I am sick. I need to come home." A couple of phone calls later and my son's care is arranged – Dad is on the way. Half an hour later, I find myself stuck in the prison on a security lockdown – I have two hours of my own company with nothing to do whilst I wait to be released.
I decide to sit back and use the down time to evaluate how I am managing the everyday demands on my life. I have been blessed with a fabulous family, a job that I love, a church that is a joy to serve and legs that can run a long way. This all means I have plenty to keep me occupied; it can also mean I get whisked along with life and forget to make room for the One who gave me life.
Learning to take time with God
I grew up in a small village and, as an only child, spent extended periods of time alone. As I wandered around the fields and estuaries, I began to wonder aloud about why we are here and how my life would unfold. As my faith grew and my understanding of Jesus increased, I used these times to give Him room to speak and for me pour out my heart to Him.
Little did I know then that over the next 15 years, I would lose both of my parents to cancer, get married, have three kids, find out I carry an aggressive cancer gene, join the probation service, run marathons and teach in the church. A lot has changed, but one thing has never changed: God has been with me every step of my journey. Every day He is working and speaking into my life and the things I am involved in.
Preparing for my busy days
I still take my walks in the countryside before my day begins. I find it hard to focus and pray in my house first thing in the morning because there is always a job that needs doing or someone who wants me for something. Most days I take 30 to 40 minutes, but some days it’s just 15. This time enables me to remind myself of who God is and to prepare myself for the day ahead.
How I prepare:
- I give thanks for things I have seen Him do and remind myself of His faithfulness. This lifts my faith for what is to come.
- I sing and pray and turn scripture over in my head and heart. In the midst of the pressure and demands of my day, I can draw from the account of truth and wisdom that has already been deposited.
- I am practising hearing God’s voice when I listen to the birds sing, so when I face a dilemma at work I am already tuned in to how He speaks.
- I have memorised scripture about my identity in Him so in a moment of weakness or insecurity I can call it instantly to mind.
- When I feel as if I have run out of ideas as to how to help my children I am encouraged by all the prayers I know He has heard.
As well as worship, prayer and solitude, the other foundation to my daily life with God is His word. I remember verses for particular situations and meditate on these when I need to. I try to read scripture every day, so I am constantly being fed with the story of how God has revealed Himself to His people throughout history.
God is my everyday life
When I finally breathe fresh air again as I leave the prison, I feel grateful for those few extra hours to remind myself how grateful I am for my freedom – not just physically but also spiritually, emotionally and mentally. My freedom lets me have time with God and remember that He is my everyday life.