Do you know that it’s possible to keep doing work for God without ever noticing you’ve abandoned your relationship with him?
As InterVarsity staff, students, and alumni, where we do a lot of good work for God, this reality should give us pause.
How can we keep this from happening and guard against it? These four truths can help.
Truth #1: You never plan to abandon your relationship with God.
In the beginning of your relationship with God, you’re filled with light and love, amazed at God’s goodness. You can’t wait to spend time with him. And before you know it, God sweeps you into his mission in the world. You labor with love, doing good work.
You’re so excited about serving, in fact, that you don’t even notice your relationship with God growing cold. Your Bible doesn’t collect dust, but it does spend more and more time in the bottom of your backpack and in the trunk of your car.
Wake up. God is not your supervisor or your pastor or your InterVarsity staff worker. He’s not a distant voice echoing off of cold dead pages. God is alive and he’s speaking. Our hearts burn within us when we hear his voice. Are you listening to him?
Truth #2: You are not too busy to spend time with God.
None of us would ever say that we’re too busy to spend time with God. But our calendars confess on our behalf. We live like we’re too busy for God.
What would it look like for us to be available to God every day? For me, it requires intentional effort. I have to choose to silence my phone and shut off my computer. I have to choose to block out time in my calendar. I have to choose to say “Not now” to a dozen good things so that I can say yes to God.
Devote time to him every day.
Truth #3: You do not have to be bored with God.
Imagine. Your friend answers the phone and has a long conversation while you slowly sip your coffee. Your host tells you to make yourself at home but grabs his keys and runs out the door. Your date goes and sits at another table, leaving you wondering why you ordered a salad instead of a cheeseburger. How would this treatment make you feel? Would you treat a friend, a guest or a date so flippantly?
We don’t think of God as the boring friend, the unwelcome houseguest, or the bad date. Do we? Why would we treat him that way?
Surely, something has gone wrong in us. And the longer we follow Christ, the greater the temptation to this wrongness becomes. “Familiarity breeds contempt,” some say. But familiarity also breeds apathy and boredom and dark things that lurk in the shadows of our souls.
I’m continually surprised by what I find in the pages of Scripture: stories I had forgotten, images I had never noticed, whole challenging truths that I missed in my previous readings. God’s story contains a great deal more complexity and beauty than I’ve yet to grasp. I fill my hands but my hands aren’t large enough to contain it all.
Try spending time with God again. Read through the Bible. Listen in prayer. You will find that the God we worship is not as familiar and not as small as you’ve perhaps subconsciously come to believe. And this is good news.
Truth #4: You do not have to wait to spend time with God.
Here are four super-easy ideas to help you jump-start the daily practice of spending time with God.
#lectiotweeto: Pick a book of the Bible. Read one chapter every day. Ask God to speak to you. Read your chapter-of-the-day several times, slowly. Imagine that God is placing a verse or idea in your hands. Take a few minutes to reflect on that verse or idea. Then pray, giving thanks to God. If you’re on Twitter, share what you heard and give it the hashtag #lectiotweeto.
Book of Common Prayer: Christians all over the world use the Book of Common Prayer to help them spend time with God. I’ve found it powerfully useful for combatting the busyness in my life. In addition to historic prayers for every occasion, it has a section titled “Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families,” which lays out guided devotional times to use several times every day. Each devotion includes prayer, Scripture reading, and space to reflect.
Memorize Scripture: Pick a section of the Bible: a few verses or even a few chapters. Write them on notecards. Take some time every day to read and reflect on the cards. Try to remember one new verse every day, and ask God to show you how to respond to what you’re memorizing. Also ask God to bring the verses you’re memorizing to your mind throughout the day, like lyrics stuck in your head, written by someone who knows and loves you.
What ideas do you have to jump-start time with God? How do you spend time with God day in and day out?