Taking Time To Refresh Ourselves
Being Aware of a Problem Recently Margaret and I were talking with another couple about it being essential to spend time together. It is not just a pleasure but, in a busy life, it is a duty which we cannot afford to neglect. It is easy of course to neglect time together because we are busy and we are doing things which are in themselves worthwhile and important. Or to assume we must be spending time together because we are in the same house or room. With leaving my work with EFCC and coming here it has been so good that we have been able to set aside a specific day of the week and that has been a great blessing to us both.
I think in some ways our relationship with the Lord can be similar. We assume that, because we are about the Lord’s work, our relationship with him must be close. The reality is that closeness with the Lord is like closeness to other people – it doesn’t come about by accident! Henry Martyn was a missionary to India and Iran in the 18th Century. At one point he observes pointedly that ‘incessant sermon making has put a distance between his soul and God’. He is making a very helpful point – being involved in Christian activity does not in itself make us spiritual or close to God.
What can we do about this problem? The need is to establish routines and to develop the flexibility to still take time with the Lord when the routine doesn’t work. Currently I am up at about 7am and spend time reading the scriptures and praying before breakfast. This is a routine that is rarely broken but in the past I used to have regular meeting to attend about 150 miles from my home at 10.30am – it was largely motorway driving but the roads were congested and travel was slow. I used to set off at about 5.30am and located a service station where I could have my breakfast and quiet time en route. If you have young children you are unlikely to be up before them so an organised time with the Lord is when you fit it in later in the day. Some people like to start and end the day with God. I find that because my second Bible reading covers several chapters I need to do it when I am not too tired. Today it will be Hosea chapters 8 – 10 and I will need to read it through and follow its development and then select portion(s) which will enable me to focus my praying on something I can hold in my mind. If I leave it too late in the day I am simply too tired to concentrate and won’t profit as much from it.
Problems with the answer to the problem Of course routine in itself isn’t everything. I am aware it is only too easy to have a good routine and to be disciplined about while still not having an intimate relationship to the Lord. However if you don’t spend time with someone you definitely won’t a close relationship. I will come back to this in this month’s newsletter but an obvious point is the need to talk. We don’t just read the Bible but respond to God appropriately for what we are learning.
Yours in the Lord,