When we lived in Vancouver I would bike almost every day—in the sun, in the rain, in the heat, in the (relative) cold. I loved it! Often I’d take my bike on the 30 km round trip commute to school even though I could take a bus and get there quicker. When I needed to get away, I'd hop on my bike and take a trip around the stunning Seawall that borders Stanley Park. I fell in love with the fresh air, the exercise, and the chance to see the city at a slower speed.
One of the hardest things about moving back to the prairies has been not being able to bike all year round. Sure, I suppose I could bundle up and put studs on my tires and then venture out into the stinging cold, biting wind, and sloppy streets. But I wouldn’t love doing that. And so, each year I eagerly anticipate a day like today when the sun is warm and the roads are melting—it means I can get back to doing what I love!
As I was wheeling around town this afternoon making various stops on my way back to the church while soaking in the glory of my first ride of the season, I got to thinking: do I feel the same way about God and by extension the church, as I do riding my bike? Do I bide my time, anxious to get back to worshiping God with my fellow believers, soaking in His presence? Or do I spend time with God simply out of a sense of obligation or to put on a good show for whoever might be watching?
Do I bide my time, anxious to get back to worshiping God with my fellow believers, soaking in His presence?
There are many things in our lives that we can get excited about, things in which we take pride and joy; things that we love. Think about such a thing in your life. Then compare the passion and excitement you have for that thing (hockey, sledding, farming…) with the passion and excitement you have for God. Feeling guilty yet? I know I did a little when I compared how I felt about the things I value with my attitude toward God.
The good news is (if you haven’t stopped reading yet), that it’s not about feeling guilty, even though so many people believe otherwise. Instead, it is about the still, small voice of God’s Spirit calling us into greater intimacy with Him. He wants us to love Him wholeheartedly and He is calling each of us to Himself to passionately pursue Him with all we are.
So next time you are out doing the things that you love, think of God. Give thanks that He has put a passion in your heart for whatever it is you love to do and invite God to give you a passionate heart to pursue Him with all your might.
Lent is a season that calls Christians into spiritual disciplines that direct our focus to God and our need for Him. Every time we journey through Lent, I make sure to read Richard Foster’s excellent book Celebration of Discipline (a copy can be found in the church library) which walks through a number of spiritual disciplines a Christian can practice. One such discipline into which Christians are invited is that of meditation. “Christian meditation,” Foster says, “very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word” (Foster, Celebration of Discipline, 17).
While this would appear to be one of the easiest things a Christian can do, I would guess it is one of the least practiced of all disciplines in today’s fast paced society because it requires us to stop. When was the last time you stopped everything you were doing? I mean, literally, everything. When was the last time you just sat in a quiet space with nothing to distract you?
When was the last time you stopped everything you were doing?
It is hard. I will be the first to admit it! Even if you put your phone on silent and turn off the TV, computer, and tablet, distracting thoughts are still ever present. What am I missing on Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/Instagram (pick whichever social media vice you fancy)? Did I remember to reply to that urgent email? What was I supposed to pick up at the grocery store on my way home from work? Do the kids have dance or basketball tonight? And on, and on, and on.
We live in such a fast paced world that we have become accustomed to having to multitask while our brains are flooded with information—it’s how we operate today which presents a challenge when trying to put aside distractions to listen to God. Like I said before, practicing the discipline of Christian meditation is a challenge—even when it is part of your job! But the benefits of going away with God to listen as He speaks are immeasurable.
God is always speaking to us but we too often crowd Him out with the busyness of our day. When we hear God’s voice—his affirming, encouraging, and life-giving voice—we become surer of who we are and what we are to do. Would you take a few minutes right now to practice this spiritual disciple of listening and obeying God’s voice? Ask God to help you put aside anything that would distract you from hearing Him and allow Him to speak! It may not be easy but as you do this more I am confident that you will discover the sweetness of taking time to listen to God speak.
Photo: "Eastman Johnson, Child at Prayer, circa 1873" by Eastman Johnson - ArtDaily.com. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eastman_Johnson,_Child_at_Prayer,_circa_1873.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Eastman_Johnson,_Child_at_Prayer,_circa_1873.jpg
Pastor J-M shares some occasional thoughts and musings on our life together as followers of Christ. The views are his own.