Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finding Time for God

Photo by Sujit kumar
Life goes by at lightning speed.  I recall being a child and wondering why it was taking so long to grow up.  Now each passing year seems to go faster than the last and I wonder why time can't just slow down.  It's less than a week until Christmas and I still haven't found time to finish my Christmas shopping (for my wife...so you know it better get done!).  In the midst of this chaos what get priority?  Going to work certainly seems important; so I'd put that high on the list.  Changing the oil in the car is important, but you can fudge that a couple hundred miles and it's not going to make a big difference.  What about finding time for God?

The answer depends highly upon your religious proclivity.  The atheist just laughs and says something about how smart he is and that science is his savior.  The agnostic doesn't care while the deist doesn't think God cares.  The scientologist claims he is his own god and therefore justifies spending exorbitant amounts of time for "god" - just look at that religious group and try convincing me I'm wrong.  The catholic makes time from exactly 9:00 AM to 9:55AM every Sunday, but not a moment longer.  The protestant makes just enough time to make more time than anyone else in the congregation.  Reverend Jesse Jackson makes time as long as it advances his social agenda, but not if it doesn't.  

Maybe the better question to answer is: why does it matter if I find time for God?  I'm certainly no role model for finding time for God, but I can definitely answer the question.  If I compare a week wherein I've spent a lot of time for God (writing, reading the Bible, praying, etc.) I am much happier, less stressed, and much more focused on what is really important in life.  By contrast, weeks where I don't spend time on God are usually filled with stress, anger, and a disproportionate concern for things that don't really matter.  Consider by analogy why that might be.

Imagine if you needed to travel between point A and B and decided to purchase a Cessna Citation to fulfill this need.  On the surface, it might seem like a great solution and owning a sleek private jet is certainly appealing to most of us.  However, if points A and B are only separated by 10 miles your purchase is a horrible solution; in fact, you would quickly loathe taxing down roadways crowded with cars, parking would be a disaster, refueling would be next to impossible, and the cost far in excess of a more appropriate form of transportation.  You might also do some jail time for trying to drive and airplane down the roads, but that's  beyond the scope of our analogy.  It's not that a Citation is a bad airplane, it's that it isn't designed to be a 10 mile commuter car.  Imagine how much better the Citation performs when it's being used in the way it was designed.
Just like the airplane, we were designed by God with a specific purpose.  Determining our purpose isn't always easy, but the less time with God the farther we are from finding it.  It should be no surprise to me that I am happier the more time I spend "with" God because I am closer to realizing my purpose.  When I'm not finding time for God it's a lot like driving my private jet down I-5 in the middle of Los Angeles during rush hour.

The aforementioned might describe why it's important to find time for God, but how do we accomplish it in the midst of busy lives?  First, by properly prioritizing our lives - and God should be number one.  Attending church, small groups, and bible studies are all excellent ways to focus - plus they're usually more relaxing than pandering to the beckoning calls of the strip mall.  Second, finding time for God isn't all about going to church.  Throughout any day there are a multitude of opportunities to pray for help, give gratitude, or offer simple praise.  It needn't be a showy unfurling of your prayer mat whilst bowing in mock reverence.  In fact, I think of it more as a conversation throughout the day...something similar to texting God.  For example, when I go hiking I like to stop, take in the beautiful scenery (did I mention I live in Colorado?), and say a simple prayer of praise for the majesty of Creation.  At work it's often a prayer to help me stay focused and work hard.  Third, reading the Bible is valuable, but I find it much more rewarding to do so with a good study guide to explain the connections and parallels I would otherwise miss.  I was once timid and easily dissuaded by secularists who challenged Biblical truths and made accusations about apparent paradoxes or incongruities in the Bible, but having read the Bible with the aid of christian apologetics I am confident, have much greater understanding, and can easily refute the challenges.  Consequently, I understand the logical consistency that can only come from a God-created universe and my faith is never stronger.

Ultimately, we can make plenty of time for God during the day.  Doing so requires abandoning some classical ideas of God being only present and accessible through church, although church is always important.  It takes a conscious effort to focus on God, but the rewards are much greater than you can fathom.  Indeed, the meaning of our life is fulfilled when we live according to our design, and our design is revealed through our closeness to God.

 

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