The other day I was meeting with a fellow pastor and church planter. At the end of our time together he asked me to pray for him – that he find time for quiet reflection and meditation; that he find time to be still before the Lord.
Sounds like a pretty reasonable request. Sounds like something I might ask someone to pray for. Sounds like something that will… never happen.
Finding time to sit still and do–let’s face it–nothing is impossible. How would you go about finding this time? Where would you look? It’s harder than that even, because this ‘nothing’ is an intentional ‘nothing.’ Quietness before the Lord. Stillness in the[did my email just chime. I’ll just check that, it could be important. Oh, someone commented on my last FB post. How many is that? wow people really liked that post[[Oh someone posted an article. I should read that. It is from the Gospel Coalition, after all[[[did my phone vibrate? I should return that text. It’s about tomorrow’s meeting[[[[That reminds me, I should call that other person too and make sure he’s doing okay. He sounded discouraged yesterday[[[[[Isn’t my sermon on discouragement? Where is that book I was looking for?]]]]] where was I? Oh, the phone call.]]]] where was I? Oh yeah, the text. about the meeting.]]] now, where was I? Oh right, the article from the Gospel Coalition. How did NFL.com get pulled up?]] Now where was I? Oh right, Facebook. Gosh my cleverness amazes even me sometimes] midst of a very distracting culture.
Imagine coming home one day and you walk past a door you’ve never noticed before right next to the kitchen. You open it and there before you is an empty closet. “Honey, what’s this?” “Looks like a closet dear.” “Yes, I realize it’s a closet. Has it always been here?” “Um.” “I think just found another closet!”
There are exactly three times you find empty closets in your house. The day you move in, the day you move out, and the day you clean out your stupid closet and MAKE some room in it.
You will NEVER find time to sit quietly, waiting on God, meditating on His kindnesses, praying, reading, listening. You must MAKE the time.
This sounds like work. Yes. It sounds like you are saying the Christian life takes effort. Yes. The Christian Life takes effort. If someone told you it doesn’t, demand your money back.
The irony in this case is how much effort it takes to take a moment and stop putting in the effort.
But it’s easier to say I want to find the time. When I say I want to find the time, I can now sit back and wait for God to make some quiet time available. If He wants me to spend time in quiet meditation, He will have to do something about my days and schedule. Nothing has changed. Obviously it’s just not as important to God as it is to me.
When I moved my family to Northern VA it was the first home we owned with a garage and a basement. We were very excited. The first morning we woke up, my wife asked me what my plans were. “I’m going to get both cars into the garage by the end of the day” (my wife and I grew up in Cleveland where, if you had a garage, you used your garage for–this sounds crazy– your cars). So I spent the entire day rearranging my garage – moving things out that didn’t need to be there, rearranging other things that needed to be in the garage but didn’t need to take up as much space as they were.
You have 168 hours this week. God gave them to you. It’s the same number of hours you had last week. It’s the same number of hours you had the week before. It’s the same number of hours you will have next week and the week after. Maybe there are some things in your week that could be rearranged or removed entirely. Maybe it’s time to throw out some of that moth-eaten stuff and MAKE room in your closet for the stuff of eternal quality.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
To find time, you need to begin to make time. And this like all worthy endeavors will take effort and sacrifice and change and you will do great sometimes and you fail sometimes and you will love it and be amazed by the time with God sometimes and you will hate it and feel like a hypocrite, and a lazy one at that, sometimes.
I suggest starting with a pretty specifically small time limit. start with ten minutes. Ten small minutes when you close your computer and turn off your phone or put it in another room and you close the door and you open your Bible. It might help you to take out a piece of paper and write on it. It might also help you to throw the paper away when you are done so that you aren’t writing your next blog or sermon or… oh, maybe I’m the only one that does that. Anyway, you get the picture. Start at ten minutes. Meditate on God’s goodness. Write down five people in your life you are thankful for and pray for them. Read a portion of Scripture that has nothing to do with a lesson or sermon or book you are preparing. Ask the Lord to create in you a clean heart and to renew His steadfast Spirit in you. Ask Him to restore to your heart the joy of His salvation. (Psalm 51.10,12)
In a week make it fifteen minutes. A week after that make it twenty. By the time January rolls around you’ll be up to thirty and by the end of January over forty-five minutes of quietness before the Lord.
I do not claim this is going to be easy. It will require sacrifices. It will require rearranging some things and getting rid of some things. Easy is leaving the cars outside and having a ginormous, there’s-no-where-else-to-put-it-let’s-throw-it-out-there space.
It won’t be easy. It will be worth it. Stop looking for the time as if it’s a misplaced set of car keys. Start making the time.
Enjoy the journey.