Keeping up your spiritual life while living in another culture can be most challenging. Our days are often filled with so many demands on our time and strength that personal quiet time will get pushed aside if we don’t make a concerted effort to make it first in our lives.
The beginning of the day
Not being a morning person, devotions first thing in the morning has always been a hard discipline for me. I’ve cried to God, ” How can I come away with You, Lord, when my feet can’t even find the floor before 7 A.M.? Lord, You know I truly want to be with You, show me the way.”
I can’t always have devotions early in the morning, but I can always make my first thoughts of the day be of the Lord. I can consciously put my mind on the Lord, on memorized portions of Scripture, and on spiritual songs. These prepare my heart to hear from Him throughout the day. Later, I can take some of the best part of my day and give my all to Him.
Being a night owl, I often lay awake for a long time praying and meditating while my family sleeps. Sometimes I get up and read or write what the Lord has put on my heart. These late night times with God often refresh me through the following day.
Quiet time with small children
Small children make it difficult to get alone with God. Their naps may offer time, but for Mom, the temptation is strong to sleep then too! We please the Lord when we choose to spend the time with Him.
Let your husband know your need for quiet time, he may help by taking care of the children for a while each day. That has double benefits. You get that longed for quiet time and your husband has special time with the children.
Or you may just have to hold your little one on your lap and share your special time with God with your youngster. Children often quiet down and seem to absorb your love for the Lord as they hear you sing and praise your Heavenly Father.
Practicing the presence of God can help us stay in tune with Him. When pleasant things happen we can voice our thanks to Him for them. Practicing thankfulness delights His heart! When unpleasant things happen, we can still look to our loving Father. He is the strength and joy of our lives.
Learning spiritual lessons
While living in another culture I learned the importance of learning spiritual lessons as well as teaching them. When we were in Africa, I was school teacher to my eldest son, campus nurse and lecturer at the college, wife and mother. Many times I prepared lessons for my students in the middle of a hurricane of activity and interruptions. My lesson plans were complete with the aims and expected responses noted; but I had not let those lessons sink into my own heart. Over-commitment was choking the truth of those lessons from my life. Pleasing God became more important than impressing man, so I took a semester off teaching in the college to quiet my heart and learn from Him before I resumed teaching.
Having a spiritual home
My husband traveled most weekends during one period of our time overseas. Our boys and I needed a spiritual “home.” While our own denomination didn’t have a congregation in that town, I found another that met our needs. We were always welcomed by name. They remembered from week to week where my husband had been and they asked about him. If I voiced a need, they were quick to offer prayer and any other kind of practical help I needed. Although it wasn’t like back home, it became my home there. It is so important to find a place to settle down and people to relate to.
Lea shared from her experience living in a country where she was just learning the language. “Attending services regularly for me was difficult at first because I didn’t understand the language. Thankfully during the message, others would come occasionally and interpret the message for me. Now when we have visiting guests or new PWs, I make sure to interpret for them and stick by their side during that initial time of adjustment and language training. Also, we had Bible studies in English with our senior PWs which helped me keep up-to-par spiritually.”
Living in another culture we may not appreciate their spirituality. It may be hard to “feel” satisfied with the corporate worship experience. Lea shared more about this, “While I didn’t altogether understand the African way of worship at first, I’ve come to prefer it over the years! Here in Africa, we praise God with such abandon. It’s rare to find such freedom in the west. I began to understand their ways of worship when I began to enter into it here. Entering into praise and worship which is different to that which you are accustomed to can be quite a stretch, but will bring you closer to God for “becoming all things to all men,” and closer to those you are working with because you are worshipping along with them.”