So I'm reading through, very slowly now that I think about it, Jesus Centered Youth Ministry, by Rick Lawrence. And in the chapter entitled 'Discipleship' I found something, much like the moment I had on Sunday during Ty's sermon, when God reached down and smacked me on the back of the head. Rick was talking about the importance of getting away and spending time alone with God. This is not a new topic, its something Godly people have been teaching about since...Jesus. And that's where it hit me, if Godly people have been teaching about the importance of alone time with God ever since Jesus taught about it and lived it out himself, then maybe, just maybe they're on to something.
I know my first reaction to the feeling of, 'I really should spend more time with God', is 'when?' I convince myself that I'm so busy, I mean I've got work to do, teenagers to save, video games to play, and a wife to be married to! How do I have time to spend with God...alone...quietly...with no one else around...with my cell phone off...and the list of excuses goes on.
Rick makes a great point in this chapter on discipleship, that if anybody had a time crunch that they couldn't shake it was Jesus. Think about it, how many sick went unhealed when he went away to spend time alone with God? How many demon possessed went unhealed? How many people waiting to learn from him went untaught? Jesus had no spare time, none. He was God made flesh and if people weren't trying to get healed or listen to him teach they were trying to kill him.
YET, he went away. He knew what a right relationship with God was and he lived it out, regardless of the time crunch he felt. Could he have healed more people, or slapped around the Pharisees more, yes! But he knew what he needed to do to maintain his connection with the Father, so he did it. He got away. To a silent, secluded, quiet, alone place. He MADE time and he made the necessary sacrifices to keep that relationship strong and vibrant. And that is why people couldn't ignore Jesus, because his deeply intimate relationship with the Father made the people he came into contact with want to know the Father...or kill him, but either way his relationship with the Father was blatantly obvious to all those who came into contact with Jesus.
I asked myself after thinking about what Rick wrote, 1) does my relationship with God take the same priority as Jesus' relationship with the Father? 2) do I even spend alone time with God? 3) do I want to sacrifice 'me time' for 'God time'?
1) I spent a few minutes analyzing my priorities and well, no, not even close. I'm convinced that Jesus didn't have a priority list that went beyond: "priority 1: serve the Father". Everything he did stemmed from that singular priority, the way he served, the way he taught, the way he lead, the way he healed and the way he rebuked. My priority list has like 73 things on it and high on that list is 'serve myself'. I want to be able to answer this question with an astounding 'YES' but getting to that point scares me because I know that God is going to have to do some serious soul work in me and that is going to hurt.
2) Sometimes. Again, an answer I don't like. And again, the only person I can be unhappy with about that answer is myself. Do I want to spend time with God, yes, but making it THE priority has proven to be difficult. This is where I pray earnestly for discipline and the strength to break old habits so that my relationship with God can blossom. I have no doubt that God is waiting for me to climb out of the bunker I've dug myself into and take a step towards him, despite the bullets that will be whizzing by my head.
3) Sometimes but most often not. I'm not saying that 'me time' and 'God time' are mutually exclusive, but generally speaking 'God time' gets cut so 'me time' can be longer. I want to get to the place where 'me time' is 'God time', where what I want to do with my time is what God wants me to do; where our wills align. But as I alluded to before getting there is going to be like walking through a fire fight. satan is not going to like me getting out of my fox hole and running towards God. he will try and shoot me down, but when enough is enough, you've got to take some hits to get where you're supposed to be. Especially when where you're supposed to be is with the God of the universe, who in due time will crush satan like a little annoying mosquito and along with him all the crap we let ourselves get bogged down in.
That is the day I long for, when everything is as it was originally created and our perspective is no longer skewed, our relationship with God has been restored, and we can sing for eternity of the greatness of God.