We are all under deadline for something each day. Regardless of our station in life, there is always something, someone, or somewhere to get to by a designated time. Am I right? Parents are pressed to get the family ready in the morning. The student must get to the bus. The bus driver carefully delivers children to the school. Teachers rush to prep classrooms for today’s lessons. Men and women worldwide fight to be early for that next presentation! Deadlines! Deadlines! Deadlines!
We rail against these daily benchmarks in our office kitchen conversations. Yet, it is these same hurdles that speak to our self-worth. How do we feel when we miss them? What are the ramifications of being late? We fight. We fight. We fight because these markers are immovable! We cannot afford to be late! What if my child receives a poor grade? What if I am reprimanded at work or even more so … I lose my job?!?! But, as I digress into the eventual destruction of my family and livelihood, I’m reminded of the other aspects of life that still draw me in like a tractor beam from the Death Star in the 1977 world of Star Wars, our hobbies and passions.
I spent years struggling to get out of the office, mastering traffic patterns and herding cats to ensure that there were at least ten men on the softball diamond by 6:45 p.m. “We will not forfeit due to a lack of personnel!” I would declare. “I guarantee it!”
Can you relate? Maybe for you it isn’t softball, golf, soccer, or tennis. Your extracurriculars may not involve sports at all. Perhaps you are a budding actor and nothing will get in the way of your development. You must be ready when your “break” into the business arrives. It’s possible you are a voracious learner. It is truly your destiny to receive your MBA and complete your Doctorate studies in International Business. You may be the next big thing in the arena of Christian worship leaders. Nothing is more important than studying and practicing the music and moves until the presentation is perfect. After all, when we say “excellence” is what is important, we really mean there is no room for mistakes in our worship service. Right?
Is any of this familiar to you? I know it certainly is to me. I can remember the day that my perspective, my heart, was transformed forever. A man whom I respect greatly asked a very simple question in a Sunday night leadership meeting — “Are you good soil?” Is my heart fertile ground for a deep, fruitful relationship with God the Father? I immediately thought to myself. What kind of question is this? Of course it is! I love Jesus. He loves me. I have devoted my life to ministry! Again, how dare you even ask this question!
He wasn’t finished. “What fruit are you producing?” Wait, are you asking me to evaluate the actual results of my life’s thoughts, words, and actions? Come on, man! I’m here. I’m committed. That’s as far as we need to go.
But, because of God’s great love spoken with razor sharpness through this man of God, I was confronted with a harsh truth. My heart was fertile ground for many things but the one thing that mattered most was not topping the charts, a true loving relationship with my Father, God. I soon realized any commitment could easily move in front of my time alone with Him. My loyalty and commitment to almost anything else, including church activity, was unquestionable, but my daily deadline for personal time with Jesus was like the ebb and flow of a rushing river.
It’s ok, though. He understands. He is a loving and compassionate God.
This, for me, was not a commitment or loyalty problem. It was a matter of the heart. My heart was not the “good soil” I thought it was. Oh, there were good things being produced from my life devotions. Yet, I now realized that my daily devotions were not rooted in the simplicity of time alone with God, an immovable, unquestionable time that was simply to get to know Him more and better, not being driven by any other responsibility. They were devoted to good things, but not the greatest.
The challenge in today’s immersive culture is to be unswervingly committed to your personal relationship with God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit – and to help others to do the same. Christ summed it up this way in Mark 12:29-31:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.
Ask yourself, is there anything more important than your relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Then why is it first in the list of options to shift in your daily schedule? Why was it for me? Why would I choose to lose? I declared “Victory in Jesus,” but day by day, I was sabotaging that truth, one decision at a time.
Set maybe two times each day that are unquestionably God’s. Hold fast! Then devote a time each week where you share with others what you are learning from your time with the Father. Teach them to do the same. (Matthew 28:18-20)
Your passion and devotion to these practices will continually transform you, your family and friends, and all of your other favorite things to do in life. Living from a godly perspective changes everything and produces a return 30, 60, 100 times what was sown. You will multiply good fruit that will last! (Matthew 13, John 15:5)
Remember, you win when you realize that you are worth God’s time. He loves you! He desires time alone with you! Maximize that time and never give up! (2 Peter 1:2-10)
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Greg Bentley is Product Manager for Inspiration Ministries.
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