As I've thought about our theme this week of creative ways to spend time with God I've been reminded of a song by Steven Curtis Chapman, thought about how mind boggling it is that God would want to spend time with me, and pondered how once a day is not enough.
Back in the early 90s Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song entitled The Great Adventure that always resounded for me; the song opens up with these lyrics:
"Started out this morning
In the usual way
Chasing thoughts inside my head
Of all I had to do today
Another time around the circle
Try to make it better than the last
I opened up the bible
And I read about me
Said I'd been a prisoner
And God's grace had set me free
And somewhere between the pages
It hit me like a lightning bolt
I saw a big frontier in front of me
And I heard somebody say "let's go""
Chapman's lyrics describe my experience to a T. Maybe it's because I'm a "do-er" and a list maker,but for whatever the reason, if I'm left to what comes naturally I'll start each morning almost obsessed with thoughts of what I want to accomplish and all I need to get done. What I've found however is that if I follow that trend, I never get where I want to go. Instead I just wind up tired.
Conversely, I've found time and time again that, if, instead of following that natural bent, I choose to make time each morning to spend just opening the pages of the Bible and reading for a little while, until God speaks to my heart, I see myself in the pages of scripture. The Holy Spirit speaks to my heart; sometimes it's words of hope and encouragement, sometimes it's sharp conviction of my sin, sometimes it's the overwhelming flood of His love, sometimes it's practical wisdom about events in my life. But whatever it is, it always shifts my focus and gives me a different perspective. Like Chapman describes in the song above as "a big frontier".
How I actually "do" this varies depending on what's going on in my life. Right now it's all about my life-in-my-car. I drop my sons off at school just past 6:30AM and then head on in to work. Since this gets me there earlier than needed, and since I have several different locations where I may be starting my work day on any particular day, I've developed several locations where I'm able to park my car and sit and have some time for praying and reading the Bible before I go on in to work. This morning time is typically simply a time when I read and listen for God's voice. It's not a deep study and I don't have any kind of reading plan that I must get a certain amount read. I just read until God impresses something on me for that day, and then I stop. Right now I'm using The Message paraphrase because it's refreshing for me. Frequently I'll find that I'll read the same portion of scripture for a few days in a row. It's like my heart is hard ground and I need to keep re-reading until God's written word, and the revelation He wants to bring through it, can sink into my heart. Until those words become part of the ongoing way my mind thinks.
Whenever I think about these times I feel kind of excited. I'm the same way about when I get to spend one on one times with those few very close friends of mine. But the thing that I just can't seem to get past, is that God actually wants to spend time with me. I mean God - as in the All Powerful Creator of the Universe, the Commander of hosts of the armies of heaven, the One who always has been and always will be - GOD - is willing to spend time with me. I'm reminded of David's words from Psalm 8:3-5 when he asks God why He is wiling to even bother with man.
As precious as that morning time is, it's never enough.
Typically I've got some kind of on-going Bible study in which I'm involved that I'll take 1-5 time segments each week to study. How many time segments I take just depends on how my schedule is any given week, or if the particular study in which I'm involved is with other people and involves any sort of commitment. I've always got some kind of Christian book that I'm reading; most often just a chapter every week or so. Again, I find that I'm one of those people who requires time to process what I read.
I like to pray in the morning before I take that time out to read. I like to pray whenever God brings people to my mind throughout the day to pray for. Sometimes I know things to pray for people, sometimes I'll just come in contact with someone and feel impressed to take a few moments to pray for them. When I pray for people sometimes I pray with my understanding, and sometimes I have no idea what to say but God's spirit intercedes through me. I like to pray when tough situations arise and I need to reach out to God. I like to pray my gratitude when unexpected blessings come way; things like getting to see the pink sky behind the majestic mountains as I'm driving to work, or my middle son actually says something nice to me, or I accomplish something that makes life better for one of my clients. I like to pray and list out a bunch of the great things God has done for me when I'm feeling discouraged. Sometimes I just want to be near God but don't know what to say, so I go somewhere I can be alone and just be there.
What about you, how do you spend time with God?