A plus on your next snow day
A friend recently shared that quiet time with God was important but not necessary to her. This remark seemed to be secondhand in the conversation she was having with me about her prayer life.
It wasn’t secondhand. I asked her to share more.
“Those idle moments with God,” she mused, “the time of just chilling with Him—of just ‘being’ with Him—this is something I tend to do on the days I have less of a pressed schedule.”
Something here felt odd, off. Wrong. We agreed this needed more consideration. After all, we realized, we all seem to have long to-do lists, even during the wintertime AND a pandemic. But God time being something practiced now and again? This gets a no.
My friend realized time with God is necessary even, or perhaps especially, when our to-do lists are jam packed. My friend also realized a lack of time with God ultimately left her further from God. This was not intentional.
In our time together, my friend found that the conversations she’s been experiencing with God have been definitely one-sided. She mentioned the long lines of vehicles wrapped around fast-food chains these days during the pandemic. This comment seemed unrelated to the conversation until she added, “My prayers are like I’m circling around, ordering by rote from an outdoor menu, dropping money, and then picking up my order in a paper bag.”
I just had a similar experience. Being a single dad of five leaves me zero time and one of my tasks one day was to pick up the pack from the sitter. This is something I do not regularly do because most of the 30-minute, one-way trip stretches over a dead zone for cell phone use. Whaaaat? Not being able to take or make a call? For half an hour?
Stepping into the car on my way to get the kids was memorable. It felt like the mad scramble we all do before a vacation only to suddenly sit still with the looming, somewhat uncomfortable question, “What am I going to do for thirty minutes?”
The answer was worship. But this? Honestly? This answer seemed a bit lofty, a little too goody-goody, for what we did. Sure, there was praise, but what did God and I do? We just spent time together.
The Apostle Paul understands this. As one who traveled, Paul gets it. He is an example of someone who desires to stay close to God at all times. His words in Romans 12 are an appeal for all believers to follow his lead, not once in a while, but as a way of life. He writes, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship (Romans 12:1).” Paul is saying that offering our bodies and, specifically, offering our time in the bodies we have is true and good worship to God.
Paul goes further in the following verse. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).”
When it comes to transformation, Jesus is our ultimate example of how to live a godly life, a connected life, to His Father. This connected life was a vital part of His earthly ministry. It was a necessity. The Gospels clearly tell us He not only needed but also took time to be alone with His Father. He did this not just as a habit. Rather, he did this before making major decisions and important events in his life. Here are three examples.
First, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark 1:35-37).”
Second, “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray (Matthew 14:22-23).”
Third, “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30).”
Taking time to pray and to praise kept Jesus’ heart aligned with His Father. This gave Him the strength to carry out His mission.
We need this same strength, this same connection. I got this—I loved this—after a joyful 30-minute ride with Him. With intentional not passive God time, my friend found this, too.
You may not have a 30-minute ride through a dead cell zone, but, since Phil saw his shadow this past Groundhog Day, you may likely have a snow day before spring arrives. Take time to be holy not in your company alone, but with God.