In Partnership with God—Part 2
From the Roadmap series
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If we hope to have a deep, enduring, intimate relationship with the Lord, we need to be willing to spend time with Him. This time can be spent in a number of ways—reading the Word, praying, hearing from Him in prophecy, meditating, praising, listening to uplifting music, or simply being quiet in His presence and resting in Him. There’s no perfect formula that you have to follow to “make it happen” for you. We each have to discover what works for us personally.
Building our walk with the Lord takes an investment of time. We don’t develop a deep and mature relationship with Jesus by giving Him scattered minutes of our attention here and there. Our quiet time with the Lord doesn’t have to be the same time each day, or the same plan, but whatever we do, it will cost us something as we’re all busy people.
If we’re serious about having a life partnership with God, we need to dedicate time to building it. And it’s likely that that will mean giving up something else in order to make the time. We’re all busy, many of us to the point that each day is a race against the clock where we’re constantly reassessing our priorities and schedules, sometimes hour by hour. Extra time is probably nonexistent in your life, too; hence, the concept of “making time” may require some effort.
Obviously, in our busy lives, “making time” for something is not so simple. It’s challenging to find the time for the things that we have to do, much less something that can be seen as an “extra.” We can sometimes be tempted to feel that we don’t need to spend time in God’s Word or prayer, or that we can make it through our day just fine without it. However, stopping to take time with the Lord always pays off—if not immediately, certainly over time.
It’s a matter of priorities and what we put first.
Here’s a story that you might be familiar with, but it illustrates the principle so well that it’s worth reviewing.
An expert on the subject of time management was speaking to a group of business students. He stood in front of these high-powered overachievers, pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar, and placed it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”
Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”
Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?”
By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered.
“Good!” he replied. And he again reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”
“No!” the class shouted.
Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim.
Then he looked up at the class and said, “What is the point of this illustration?”
One eager student raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things into it!”
“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is this: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”
What are the “big rocks” in your life? Are you putting them in first?—Author unknown
What could be some of the “big rocks” for those of us who want to grow spiritually and bear good fruit in life or service to the Lord? Of course, we’d each need to figure out the details on this for ourselves, but some of the main ones to consider are:
- Connecting with the Lord by giving Him quality time and our full attention.
- Intercessory prayer.
- Taking time to love others by showing concern, interest, sympathy, and understanding.
- Spending time with our spouse and children.
- Exercising and maintaining our physical health.
- Our service for the Lord.
The gravel could be things such as:
- Our work or study.
- Maintaining our home and household.
- Attending diligently to our responsibilities.
The sand or water could represent activities like:
- Television, movies, novels, or other entertainment.
- Blogging or online chatting.
- Surfing the internet.
Having the conviction to organize your schedule and priorities so that you can protect your connection with God is a matter of Christian values. Of course, the application of those values is sometimes easier said than done. You might really want that time with the Lord, but it can be a struggle to prioritize it with the many responsibilities of everyday life that compete for your time. If you find that you are easily distracted and regularly neglect your commitments to your spiritual growth, then it may be time to reassess your priorities and how you invest your time.
Many people go skimming over the surface things of life, without any sense of values: just living off the nonessentials, while the inconsequential things of life are crowding out the things that are worthwhile, and robbing them of the things that are in the long run really worthwhile.
No man or woman will ever be great in life or soul if they haven’t any real sense of values!
Trivial, temporal things so often are put first while God and His Word are crowded into a secondary place. When this happens, all of life is thrown out of balance, and the result is only disharmony, disruption, and confusion.
Are the great realities of life in the proper perspective in your life? Do you have a sense of values? Or do you let little trivialities and material things come before the reading of God’s Word and prayer? And do you excuse yourself by saying, “I’m busy, I don’t have time”? If that happens to you, it’s time to check your heart and your values.
There is life in the Word; it’s food for your soul. It’s absolutely essential to the growth of your soul! If you don’t have time for it, then your soul’s going to starve and you’re going to be a dwarf spiritually.
Prayer is communion with God. Without prayer, you walk unempowered in your own strength and wisdom. God’s Word says, “Without Me, you can do nothing.” On the other hand, it says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”1
And that strength comes only through prayer and the reading of God’s Word. You can hardly expect to get the strength needed through a weak little hurried verse, or a little tiny prayer just before you hop into bed half asleep and sort of dazed! You can’t call that “seeking first the kingdom!”
I had an acquaintance who spent all of her years scraping, digging, slaving to build and decorate a little cottage where she could be comfortable for a few years. Just a few months after it was finished, she became seriously ill. At her bedside she said to me, “Time is closing in on me! There isn’t any left for me, and I spent the little I had on things that have not a bit of value in the place where I’m going.” She had a sense of values too late! Is it going to come too late to you?
I wish sometimes we could see all the events of life framed in the ultimate results they lead to. What a change there would be in our lives! We wouldn’t make such silly excuses for putting our Word-reading and prayer in the secondary place, and we’d not give ourselves to trivialities when eternal things are calling.
The one that lives for the present instead of eternity has no sense of values. It happens every day that someone will say, not by their word perhaps, but by their actions: “I just don’t care about getting the mansions in heaven and I’m not so interested in the eternal things! Give me rather a mansion here and a crown here, with a little fame and glory here, and perhaps a few trinkets here, and the favor of man and the pleasures of sin for a season—and I’ll be a little satisfied here.”
And the King of kings, who has offered them a robe of righteousness, a crown of glory, an eternal home among the many mansions there is put aside for these “other things” that really have no value!—Virginia Brandt Berg2
Our time with the Lord should rank as our highest priority, our most critical appointment. We can schedule a rendezvous with the Master of the universe, the mentor of all mentors, the wisest life coach, the most knowledgeable consultant ever. All He has to offer has been promised to us, if we seek first His kingdom and love Him with all our hearts, minds, and spirits and give Him our time on a regular basis as we work in partnership with Him. Pretty amazing trade-off, don’t you think?
Roadmap was a video series created by TFI for young adults. Originally published in 2010. Adapted and republished on Anchor June 2017. Read by Simon Peterson.
1 John 15:5; Philippians 4:13.
2 “Sense of Values,” a transcript of a Meditation Moments broadcast, adapted.