Friday, July 03, 2009

Me Time or God Time?

Have you ever needed “me time”? The day has been long and hard, and now you want to take some time to relax and not think about things. You grab a beer, a bowl of ice cream, or cookies and milk and then sit down in front of the television. All you want is to unwind and to let go of the tension of the day.

John Eldredge talks about (in his book Walking with God and his audio teaching The Utter Relief of Holiness) how he developed a habit of coming home after a hard day and grabbing a beer, “just to take the edge off.” He goes on to talk about how he realized that is where he was turning to for comfort. “Never once,” he said, “did I think about turning to God for comfort.”

Last night I was feeling out of sorts, and so I walked into my study to grab book. The book I settled on was The World’s Last Night and Other Essays by C. S. Lewis. I was about half way through the second page when I had this thought, “Why not the Bible?” That is a good question. Why is my first instinct when I experience these times in my life is to grab a book about God rather than God’s Word? Why am I content to learn more about God rather than spending time with God?

Pardon me if I am speaking out of turn, but I think this is one of the reasons so many of us feel disconnected from God. It is no secret that life is busy, hectic, and filled with problem people and at the end of the day we are exhausted both emotionally and physically. All we want is a little me time. So we turn on the TV, we log on to Facebook, we grab a beer, we lose ourselves on the golf course, we open up the sports page, or read a good book (ladies what do you do?). Instead of turning to God we turn to ourselves for comfort.

The example of Jesus is so different. I know that comes as a shock to us, but nevertheless I think it needs to be pointed out. Matthew 14 and Mark 6 records one of the most difficult days of Jesus’ life. The day starts with the news of John the Baptizer’s death. Mark tells us that Jesus wanted to get away from the crowds and find a quiet place to rest, but the crowds wouldn’t let them. When He saw the crowds Jesus had compassion on them and He taught and healed. At the end of the day He miraculously provided food for the huge crowd with five loaves of bread and two fish.

I think we find a very important here a very important point: when we are moved by compassion we need to help, regardless of how tired we may be. There are times when we need to push on because people are depending on us. Parents, you know exactly what I am talking about. Your opportunities for rest are few and far between, but because raising your children is so important you do what needs to be done even when you are tired.

Returning to the story of Jesus, once everyone had left, Jesus sent his disciples away by boat, while he went way to pray. This is what Matthew tells us: Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone…(Matthew 14:22, 23; ESV).

When given the opportunity Jesus arranges for time alone. This tells us that we need to be intentional in taking time off, we can’t expect it just to happen. Jesus sent His disciples away so He can be alone, but He doesn’t use this time as “me time”. Instead we are told He went to pray. Jesus went to connect with His Heavenly Father. He didn’t waste these few precious moments, instead He used them to get what He will needed: God. The reason Jesus could show compassion to the crowds was because He had a strong connection with God. The reason Jesus had a strong connection with God was because He used what little time He had to be alone to worship God.

When we are feeling out of sorts, when we are need of some comfort, or when we need to be re-energized I hope that we will turn to God instead of trying to carve out “me time”. Sure “me time” will give us momentary relief, but only time spent with God will give us the strength we need to accomplish His purpose for our lives. Jesus showed us the importance of having “God time” and if we are going to be like Jesus we need to follow that example.


Paul said...

I think I have to add a couple of additional thoughts. First, in some ways this is a very disappointing post because I was not able to convey the full weight of my thoughts and just how quickly we turn to things rather than God for comfort. Second, I don't drink, the line about grabbing a beer was in response to Eldredge's teaching. Drinking alcohol is one of those things I have chosen not to do.

Anonymous said...

Being a Steelite, like the Rekabites, I was a little shocked at the beer thing. I was ready to grant that it was probably root beer.

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