As I write articles for this site, each one reinforces my conviction that the Bible is true, that God is real, and that my relationship with Him is the most important thing in my world. Then I go off and get involved in my everyday life — work, family, housecleaning, “what’s for dinner”, even church activities — without really behaving as if God is at all relevant. When I realize that I’ve done it again, I get frustrated with myself and vow to do better. Then the next show comes on the TV, or I start reading a new book, or I check the news on my favorite websites…and there I go again, ignoring God. Why?
My answer is that I keep focussing on the wrong things.
Tyranny of the Urgent
One reason is what has been called “Tyranny of the Urgent“. Whatever is screaming for attention “right now!” pulls resources away from whatever is quieter and more patient, even if the quieter call is far more important. That cellphone notification is very unlikely to be a crashing emergency. It could probably wait compared to enjoying time with God, but it can be nearly impossible to ignore.
An Ant’s Perspective
Another reason is my limited focus. I have trouble perceiving God in daily life sometimes. That’s not because He is hidden or unavailable, far from it. It’s because I am so small. It’s the same way that an ant would have trouble realizing that I am here and real, because its perception doesn’t go any higher than a blade of grass. I read a line in a science-fiction book once, by the main character on his first encounter with a ginormous alien spaceship. He “felt like an insect that had just grasped the meaning of the toenail in front of it, or a microbe that had glimpsed an ocean” 1. The word picture has stuck with me for years, but it still is not adequate to explain the vastness of God compared to microscopic little me.
A third reason, probably the main one, is plain old sin. At its root, sin is my attitude that my life is my own, to do with as I please. Paying attention to God requires looking outside of myself, and that just does not come naturally to me.
As I write this and try to think of how I can better align my life with God, here are some disciplines that come to mind.
My habit first thing each morning is to exercise, check news and emails, eat breakfast, do some housework, get a shower, and only then — if any time remains before my “real” day starts — do some Bible reading. I would do better to start by reading the Bible, then thinking about what I’ve read and listening for God’s specific message to me. Then I could take time to praise Him for who He is, thank Him for the new day and all His other blessings, commit that day to Him, and mention any concerns or specific issues. Then, I can exercise, eat, shower, and all the rest. He is more important, so He should be first in line for my time.
Do not worry then , saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.Matthew 6:31-33
God in the Everyday Things
As I go through those everyday chores — exercise, housework, etc — I can invite Him into the running conversation in my head. (I know it’s a scary place, but He apparently likes it there anyway!) I don’t think that the Bible teaches for me to sit in a meditation pose and chant prayers all day. He wants me to live, but to live in fellowship with Him.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.John 15:4
God as Top Priority, with His Help
When choices come up as to how to spend my time (or money or talent or any other resource), I can stop for a second and check in with Him. He promises that His Spirit is within me, always available to give guidance. When the guidance is for something that I find difficult or unnatural — like speaking up when I’d rather be quiet, or being quiet when I’d rather spout off — that same Spirit promises to provide the strength and courage to obey. Like any habit, that obedience will become easier the more I practice it.
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.John 14:16-17
Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.2 Corinthians 1:21-22
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Knowing what I do wrong, and what I should do instead, points out that I have a decision to make.
To me, the most difficult thing about Christianity is not believing that God exists; it’s believing that He stoops to care about me personally. That may be the most difficult, but is also the most overwhelmingly incredible! Perversely, though, that very thing can cause me to withdraw, as if His light is just too bright for me. I retreat into more familiar, comfortable, mundane thoughts that are easier to grasp.
That’s a shame, when He has shown over and over that He wants a close, living relationship with me. The answer is to worship Him, and to enjoy Him, not to run away from Him.
Although this post is published on New Year’s Day, I can’t call this a New Year’s resolution. It needs to be an every-day resolution simply to follow Him that day. I pray for His forgiveness when I fail, and His presence to start over each time.
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.John 10:10b