Last week I had the amazing opportunity of traveling to Phoenix, Arizona, to visit with family as my nephew Jason married the love of his life. It was a wonderful trip that I will treasure for years to come.
As I spent hours in airplanes and airports, both on my way there and back, I was confronted with the tyranny that time and tasks exert in my life. There are so many things that needed to be done, so many ideas to be thought out, so many words to speak and write, but during those moments I found myself able to do nothing more than sit and relax as I waited for yet another plane or a ride from the airport.
I thought about deadlines and tasks during that trip, and I want to ask, what do you not have time for? What monopolizes your time and your thoughts each day?
Most everyone would logically agree that as a believer in Christ it is imperative that we put God first in our lives. Note that I said logically. You see, while we cognitively affirm God’s importance in our lives, we actually act out that truth much differently. We say we love God and want to serve God, but in truth we end up serving ourselves on a regular basis.
What do you not have time for? Many of us, at the end of the day, find ourselves tired and a bit ashamed that we didn’t find time to read the Bible or to pray. There the Bible sits, where we placed it so many days ago, and we lament our lack of attention to it, but do little to change the facts. We utter a quick confession to God, asking forgiveness for our lack of attention before we drift into sleep, only to start back on the treadmill the minute our eyes open again.
What do you spend your time doing? In truth, there are many important things we can list here. We have families, jobs, hobbies, friends . . . you name it, and they all demand our attention. Many of these are necessary and truly need our attention. So how do we prioritize? How do we sort out the urgent from the necessary, the things that demand our attention from the things that we should emphasize?
Jesus knew about the tyranny of the urgent. There was always another person to heal, to raise from the dead, to deliver from demons. He knew what it meant to be busy. And yet, He also knew that to have a relationship with the Father He needed to prioritize.
Mark 1:35 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. Whether early in the morning, in the afternoon or the evening, or before bed, we can follow Jesus’ example by finding a solitary place to pray. Can’t find a place? The story is told of Susanna Wesley, the mother of evangelists John and Charles Wesley, about her habit of prayer. She had many children, but when it was time for her own personal devotions, she would flip her apron up over her head as a cue to the children that she was unavailable to them as she was spending time in prayer to God.
Matthew 6:33-34. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Here in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus shares with his listeners the formula for living a victorious, God-honoring life—put God first in everything. Troubles will come. Bills will come. Stresses will definitely come, but in all these things we are to put God first.
This coming Sunday some of you will be thinking about this article and saying, I understand all of that, and God knows I love Him, but I only have one day off, and I don’t have time for church. God understands. Well, yes, God does understand, but that doesn’t change the truth that it is only by seeking God’s kingdom and will in your life that you will find peace and actually be able to accomplish all that God has planned for you.
Do you not have enough time for God, for worship, for service? God had enough time for you. In fact, Jesus took the time to die on a cross so that you could become a child of God. How much time do you have for Him? Take some time today, even if you have to throw an apron over your head to find some quiet space, and spend some time with God. You’ll be glad you did!