If I look back at the seasons of my life since becoming a Christian, there is an absolute correlation between my closeness with God and the quality of my relationships, finances, ministry, career path…pretty much everything else in life. I’m pretty sure my hair grew faster.
This shouldn’t come as a shock, of course. We all know life improves when we’re in God’s will, because he not only knows what’s best for us, he desires it. The problem is, even the strongest of Christians can lose sight of the simplest of truths and fall out of good habits, ultimately leading to experiencing less God and a less abundant life. Here are a few solid reminders we all need now and again.
Spend Quality Time with God
It’s amazing to me the amount of times I’ve caught myself complaining about a problem or worrying about a situation, and realized I never even brought my concerns before the Lord. It’s not that I didn’t intend to. It’s just that instead of waking up early to pray, I hit snooze three times and then sprinted to the dryer after remembering the kids’ uniforms were still a’soaking. It sounds awful to say, but it can be so difficult to find daily time for God, especially when living the hectic family schedule we call normal. But we have it all backwards.
When we make God our priority, which means finding time for him no matter what, amazing things happen. Our time somehow increases. Things fall into place and we receive answers to the problems awaiting us through the day, because we’re connected to the source of life itself. “Seek first the Kingdom,” means putting our relationship with God before all else: the Pilates class, the creative project, even the ministry, and making time for him, no matter what.
Starting your day out with God not only dispels the instant chaos assaulting our brains within a minute of consciousness: finding the school permission forms, impending deadlines – and places everything under God’s authority. Trusting him to see you through every circumstance, celebrating with you through the minor successes of the day – “found matching socks for all THREE kids…holla!!” – and letting him know he’s Lord. I’m a more patient mother, more positive staff member, more effective ministry leader.
Heck, I’m even nicer to my cats, when I start out with the Lord. All God wants is our hearts. He knows we’ll miss so much guidance, joy, peace, and protection, if we think blasting our Hillsong in the car while driving 80 miles per hour to work can replace our quiet time. Set aside time with Him, and prepare to be amazed.
Let Him Love Us
We can only be aligned with God and really see him move in our lives when we’re in an active love relationship with him. Keyword: active. I think many of us experience that wild and crazy “first love” feeling in the early stages of our relationship with God and then kind of let things “simmer” later on in life, when families, job obligations, and worldly comforts snuff out that desperate need to get away and spend time with Him.
We become “mature Christians,” and reassure ourselves that we have a solid understanding of the Word, we know God loves us, and we’re doing just fine. This would be like never spending quality time with or talking to our spouse, and reassuring ourselves they love us because he/she told us so at the altar 20 years ago. We’re not built like that, and our relationship with God is no different.
To be our best selves, let alone of any use to our spouses, children, or ministries, we have to let him love us . . . constantly through worship and prayer time with Him. Until that happens, God’s not going to let us settle for less. Make it a point to study and reflect on scripture that relays God’s love toward you. Personalize the verses, and read them aloud to yourself. Zephaniah 3:17 comes to mind, where it describes God “rejoicing over us with singing.”
In this chaotic, increasingly-worldly, and sometimes terrifying world we live, we need to center ourselves in God’s love in a personal way to retain our peace, joy, and ability to love others. So many of us busy ourselves trying to serve him, evangelize, or further a ministry, and God’s just wanting the opportunity to love us. Don’t let any person, responsibility, or activity replace our pursuit of being loved and loving Him.
Meditate on the Word
I read a quote recently that said it’d be better to study, and really take hold of just a few scriptures in one year, than read hundreds of arbitrary verses without meditating on them. That really hit me. I realize the word of the Lord never returns void, but I’ve since reconsidered how I approach my devotional time. Sadly, I used to be, and sometimes still am, depending on my level of commitment and caffeine consumption, guilty of being a 5-minute man. On the days I commuted to work, I’d read a chapter on my YouVersion app while booting my computer, and called it a day. “Good stuff, 1 John 5.
Let’s get this day started. . .” and forget about committing scripture to memory. We excuse ourselves from memorizing and intense study of the Word because it’s “in our hearts,” and we “get the gist.” But scripture compels and even warns us to take up the sword of the spirit, (Ephesians 6:17) which is the word of God, in order to lead victorious lives. No wonder we can’t stop gossiping at the office, let alone perform spiritual warfare through the day. Imagine the power and difference in our lives if we really knew scripture like Jesus did while being tempted by the devil for 40 days in the desert. I’d probably tap out after six hours with what I’ve got. Hmmmm, let me just Google this….
The enemy would love for us to continue believing minimal time spent in prayer and the Word is enough to keep us connected to God. We might at least live moral, successful lives by the world’s standards this way, but we miss out on the power, adventure, and victory found only by being close to Him.
This doesn’t mean God becomes a genie in a bottle, granting every wish, and squelching every problem coming your way. There will always be troubles, trials and disappointments, but the difference is we’ll have peace, direction, and guidance – and He’ll always work things to our greatest good.
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