“Ours is a harder task than that which our fathers faced. Their conveniences and appliances were fewer, but they were not caught and often submerged in the rush of affairs as we are. We have many labor-saving and time-saving devices, but somehow we find it difficult to save time enough… for private meditation and prayer… While we make our homes more beautiful externally than our fathers’ with their limited means were ever able to do, can we make them also the abode of virtue, honor and love…?”
The quote haunted me for several minutes after I read it in my Life Principles for Following Christ Bible study. It wasn’t because of its uncanny accuracy and penetrating analysis (we just had our house painted, thanks to George W. Bush, thus making our home more “beautiful externally”). It was because it was written in an article in the Christian Observer… dated March 22, 1905.
It’s tempting to think that our generation has it worse than others, but it’s really all relative. Sure, the march of progress seems recently to have been led by greyhounds, but in actuality, it’s not easy for anyone of any era to change.
Change is what is required of every person who would follow Jesus. I’ve said it a hundred times after reading it in Henry Blackaby’s study Experiencing God: “You can’t stay where you are and go with God.” Whether 1905 or a century later, true intimacy with God requires each of us to change our lifestyle.
If we could think of our day as a Thanksgiving turkey. There are certain parts of it that are tasty and edible, while other parts are basically “throwaway.” We all have to carve out of our lives what is good and useful. Times when we’re asleep are basically “throwaway.” We do nothing during those times other than recoup and be restored for another day. Out of the 12-18 hours that we’re awake, we must realize that all the iPhones, PDAs, email, fax machines, computers, etc. still can’t impact our character.
We must do that by diligent attention to our souls. It’s left to us to present ourselves before a loving God for transformation and service each day. What can we do to escape what one writer referred to as the “tyranny of the urgent” and create moments of majestic impact for our souls? The Bible records Jesus’ habit of drawing away to solitary places to pray – it seems daily. In moments of monumental import, He seemed to stay up all night praying (before choosing the 12, in Gethsemane, etc.).
If our Lord and Example modeled such moments of prayer, we should certainly devote and carve out for ourselves times of submission, confession, reading, and prayer each day. Our souls thirst for Him. We don’t need more time-saving gadgets but more transforming godliness.
In order to draw nearer to Him and quench your thirst, I’d recommend:
- A set time each day – make a commitment to yourself now. Write it down. Mark it on your calendar. Set an alarm on your cell phone (one of those “conveniences”) to remind you.
- Create a “solitary place.” It’s a place where your Bible is in easy reach as well as a journal or notepad for thoughts. It’s a place, and rapidly it will become a palace where you meet with the King of kings. Regularity will make this place literally resonate with the presence of the Lord for you.
- Follow a plan. Determine ahead of time what you will read – a scripture reading plan or a guided Bible study – would be best for beginners. You can find reading plans all over the internet. I’d recommend Blackaby’s Experiencing God for a guided study.
- Stick with it. Don’t give up if you miss a day here or there. Stay at it.
- Talk to others about what you’re doing. This will bring encouragement and added accountability. You’ll be surprised that your own example might inspire others who have been procrastinating about their soul health as well.