Spiritual Growth

Bringing God Downstairs

When we first moved into our new home two years ago, one of my favorite rooms was the office upstairs. As the only room on the second floor with a door that closed off the stairwell, it seemed like a perfect place to get away when I had to work from home.

The office fits my husband’s and my desks along with overfull bookcases, but the corner dearest to me holds a comfy chair and a side table filled with notebooks, Sharpie pens, and my worn Bible. As I set up this sacred section of my home, I knew that this was where I would have my quiet time. It helped me feel settled into our new house to know that I would meet with God in this perfectly arranged nook.

At least that’s what I thought, but with my Bible and study materials upstairs behind a closed door, it seemed like I would have to take a great journey to mount the tower and reach my blessed corner each day. A baby waking up through the night made early morning appointments almost impossible. Since the office was not babyproof, bringing my daughter up didn’t seem feasible either. While I might hurry to my corner as soon as she went down for a nap, often times I found myself dozing off, too.

My seemingly perfect quiet time corner appeared far off, and so did God. I so dearly wanted those precious, peaceful alone minutes with him that I had before motherhood. But God was upstairs, and my real life was downstairs—as I cleaned oatmeal off the floors, changed dirty diapers, and kissed booboos.

Idolizing my Quite Time

Then the Holy Spirit began to convict my heart, and I came to realize that in my pursuit of God, I had actually idolized my vision of quiet time over God himself. I wanted to have long, uninterrupted time in prayer and Bible study, but I was unwilling to sacrifice the little interruptions throughout my day to him. God was not upstairs. My chair may be. My Bible may be. My abundance of pens and highlighters may be, but God was not limited to a place and time.

I had actually idolized my vision of quiet time over God himself.

In the Old Testament under the Old Covenant, God’s presence was represented by the Ark of the Covenant hidden in the Holiest Place within the Temple. Only one man, a high priest, could come before God in that place one time a year. The fullness of God’s presence was experienced in a limited time, place, and person. Yet God promised that one day, “My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Ezekiel 37:27). He would do that through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

When Jesus Christ took his last breath on the cross, the veil that separated the Holiest Place from the rest of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom—symbolizing that God’s presence no longer was separate from his people. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). God is now with his people, and in the beginning of the book of Acts, we see that he is in them through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The people didn’t have to wait for the High Priest to go before God’s presence, God’s very presence was inside of them, making them a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).

Drawing Near to God

Christ guarantees a better covenant where we can draw near to God (Hebrews 7:19, 22)! We have unity with Christ and the assurance of the Spirit that allows us to live in the presence of God. So when I separated God from my everyday life—dividing the sacred from the secular—I was putting in place barriers between my communion with God that were never supposed to be there as a follower of Christ. I have access to God’s presence when I’m cooking or vacuuming or rocking a baby. I have the Holy Spirit who helps me to pray, to meditate on Scripture, and to abide in Christ.

When I separated God from my everyday life, I was putting in place barriers between my communion with God that were never supposed to be there as follower of Christ.

While I eventually moved my favorite chair, Bible, and supplies downstairs, a more important shift in my heart and mind occurred. No longer is God’s presence bound to an hour of my isolation and silence; he is here in the midst of the noisy chaos of little children. While morning quiet times are still a precious gift, my communion with God does not end when the first cry comes through the baby monitor. A short prayer begun in the quiet of the morning continues throughout the day. A briefly studied verse is meditated upon while doing laundry and dishes. The presence of God is felt not just when I am alone with him, but when my daughter is cuddled up in my lap reading a book.

And God is near to you as well. Through the sacrifice of Christ, we can have confidence to “draw near to the throne of grace” to “find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). He doesn’t just want to be present with you when you are sitting alone with a Bible in your lap. He wants you to call out when you are losing patience with your child, when you face conflict with a coworker, when you are pursuing a passion in your heart. He cares for every moment of your life, not just the quiet ones, and he promises that he is “near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).

Through the blood of Christ, in every moment we have access to the Father. He is not upstairs, though we may have relegated him to the corners of our life.

While my words are by no means a recommendation for giving up actual “quiet” time with God, it’s an admission that our time with God does not always have to be quiet. We can give him our loud moments, our sad and happy moments, and our sinful and righteous moments. Through the blood of Christ, in every moment we have access to the Father. He is not upstairs, though we may have limited him to the corners of our life. Today, draw near to him, for he longs to draw near to you.

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