We live in a world full of distractions. It’s not just the television, phone, or the internet. With television, what you used to miss can be caught through DVR or online. With the phone which used to be to call people, now it is a miniature, portable computer where anyone can access their favorite websites or email wherever they have a wireless/cell signal. The internet isn’t just listening to an annoying dial-up sound anymore, but high-speed, wireless connections are the norm and they are the norm not just in homes, but at McDonald’s, Starbucks, Panera Bread, waiting rooms of public places, and elsewhere. The internet isn’t just at home or at the library, it’s everywhere and can be accessed from a cell phone whenever and wherever you want. We live in a world full of distractions.
It’s not just the public square or market place, but it’s in the church as well. People still bring Bibles to worship services and flip through pages, but increasingly churches use projectors with screens to replace hymnals in worship services, and many people are pressing buttons on their phone or tablet as opposed to flipping through pages of a Bible. Even many pastors are using tablets for their sermon notes and Bible reading from the pulpit. Bible studies are competing with tv programming, and worship services are competing with kid’s soccer games and marathons, half-marathons, and 5Ks. The average person is working more than before as well. It’s encouraged to work overtime and to work more than the typical work-week. It’s not seen as a bad thing, but it’s viewed as simply working hard and making more money by putting in that extra time. However, unlike before, most husbands and wives are working and putting in that extra time while their kids are busy with school and activities. This is the busy world most of us live in.
In the midst of this busy world and in this context is where pastors call others to spend time with God reading the Bible and in prayer. However, that is assuming there is time for such things. For most people in the modern Western world, such time doesn’t exist. At least, that is what we think. We think about the soccer games, the extra work, and other things when we think about time. We don’t think of prioritizing our time and schedules so that what is most important shapes our days and our lives. Instead, most of us go through life idly, as if we are slaves to the system going from one thing to the next. Even when we are doing one thing, we are thinking about what is next. We feel like we have no time to simply be in the present because we are always focused on what’s next. The result is that time with God takes a backseat to time with family, time with food, time with work, time with phone, time with tv, time with vacation, and time with everything else.
It’s become not only accepted to be busy, but expected. So, if you aren’t very, very busy, then something is wrong. The truth is that as Christians, we need to reclaim our rest in Jesus Christ and lose the busyness that our culture holds so dear. It doesn’t mean that it’s that easy, it means that if spending time with God is important to us, we will make time. When it comes to a marriage, time with your spouse is important and if you put watching a football game over spending quality time with your wife and family, something is wrong. It’s not that you are busy, it’s that you need to get your priorities straight if watching a football game is more important than your wife and family. We need to enjoy new technology like cell phones with all their capabilities, good tv programming, and even the activities that fill our lives. However, we need to be careful that these things, as helpful as they can be, do not become the foundation of our lives nor the goal of our lives. The in between time that fills our days, the time that we have when we might spend watching tv, that spare time that we spend on the internet, and even the extra time that is devoted to work could be time spent with God and family. Time with God and family don’t have to be mutually exclusive things, but time with God can be a family activity. Time in prayer, time in the Word, and devotionals can be done as a family. For regularity in a life filled with activities, they could be done before or after a meal in the evening or morning or both.
Too often we complain about how we just don’t seem to have time to spend with God as we “used to.” However, if we’re honest, there are things in our schedule that can be sacrificed in order to spend time with God. Even when we’re at work, what is 10-15 minutes spent in the Word doing a devotional for an hour lunch break? If some are given 10 minutes to have a break to smoke, than there is 10 minutes at least to spend time reading the Bible and in prayer. This is just at work. Think of the time before work and after work and before you go to bed. How much time is given to entertainment in your weekly or daily schedule? How much time is spent checking Facebook, Twitter, email, or playing games on your phone throughout the day? Be honest. This might require doing an experiment to find how many times a day you actually check your phone for something that isn’t a phone call or text message. I leave out email because you don’t really need to check email every few minutes unless you’re working a job that requires you to respond asap to email constantly. If we think about the amount of time we devote to the things that dominate our daily and weekly schedules, we will find that there are times in our day we could devote to God in prayer and Bible reading. In fact, there are probably things that we do that we don’t NEED to do in order to make time to spend with God.
We all think we’re too busy for God, but the truth is that is just an excuse so that we can feel better about ourselves as we do all the things we want to do except spend time with God and not feel guilty about it. For those who know God, there is no guilt or shame, as Jesus has taken our punishment upon Himself dying on the cross for our sins, and the freedom in Christ we know by God’s grace is freedom from the dominion of sin. So, we aren’t slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness (Romans 6). We might be able to clear our conscience by making it seem as though we are too busy for God, and we might be able to hide our schedules (daily and weekly) from others, but there is no hiding your life from God. God knows all. God knows your heart, your mind, your intentions (Hebrews 4:13). God knows the time you spend on your phone. God knows the time you devote to your HD tv. God knows all that you do in your waking and sleeping hours. So, why do we think we’re too busy for God?
We think we’re too busy for God because although we are Christian, although we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we still struggle with the world. We still struggle with our old lives, our lives of sin. Although we reside in grace by faith, we are still prone to thinking we serve sin as opposed to God. We are prone to believing the lie that sin reigns in our bodies and lives, when the truth is that although we are sinners the power of sin has been broken in Jesus Christ and not only in his life and work, but in all who believe as His perfect righteousness is applied to us and the same power that brought Him back from the dead resides within all who believe by faith as all who believe have the Holy Spirit within them. Yet, even as I write this you are probably saying, “Yes and amen,” to that, but the problem is that we too quickly affirm the truths of the Gospel in our minds without grasping them as firmly in our hearts. The result is we believe the truths of Scripture, but in our daily lives, we live as if we are alone in our lives of faith when the truth is contrary, we are not alone because the Holy Spirit is with us. God is with us. This is why being “too busy” to spend time with God daily is not a minor issue, it’s a major issue in which we fail to believe the implications of the Gospel for our lives.
In the midst of a busy world, we need to slow down and remember our rest in Jesus Christ. “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end” (Hebrews 3:12-14). The author of Hebrews wrote this in the context of chapters 3 and 4, speaking on the divine rest for God’s people in Jesus Christ. We equate rest with ceasing from work, but it seems that the author of Hebrews equates rest with the life of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When the distractions of our busy world cause us to think or say we’re “too busy for God,” we need to seriously pause and reflect on our lives and schedules because we need to be reminded of our divine rest in Jesus Christ and we need to be held accountable to one another for spending time daily in God’s Word and in prayer. If you met your wife or husband, got married, and then never talked or spent time with one another, how would that affect your relationship?
Think about how our time reflects your relationship with God. Are you too busy for God? What needs to change in your life to devote yourself more fully to God? How can you better lead your family? How can you better set an example for and be a testimony for your co-workers? We need to spend time with God because we are “prone to wander” and need to constantly return to the Gospel of Jesus Christ because we need more grace every single day.
For those who struggle finding time to spend in the Word, or when there is time feel lost and feel like reading the Bible is a bit overwhelming with how much there is to read, I recommend checking out The Good Book Company’s devotional series titled Explore. They have devotionals for different age groups as well as helps for holding a family devotional as well at their website. Explore has an app for smart phones as well where you can download the app for free, but purchase a month’s devotionals for $2. They have a quarterly paper option with 3 months of devotionals with a year subscription, although individual issues can be purchased also. This devotional is different from others and not like a devotional in that the focus is on reading Scripture with helpful questions to engage it and brief comments and references to help understand the readings. Instead of someone’s comment on a verse being the focus of the devotion, Scripture is the focus of the devotion in this series which is what I believe sets this devotional apart from most others. So, if you need help with your devotional life, I can’t recommend a better resource than Explore as it has transformed my own devotional life. Also, Kevin DeYoung, an author/pastor, I enjoy has written a new book titled Crazy Busy which seems like a good resource, but in all honesty, this post is separate from that book as I haven’t read it.