That day when you wake up with a one of those headaches where you can’t fully open your eyes. The emails you open send you into unexpected crisis mode. Your four-month-old is teething. You have to make two unplanned trips to your kids’ school. The phone keeps ringing.
And the day just does not quit.
But maybe you would like to.
We’ve probably all had them. I had mine this week.
I read in my Facebook feed this verse: “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).
I love that Jesus called His disciples to aloneness, quietness before God, spiritual retreating from the crowds and activity.
I have high expectations for those moments with my Savior and that is precious time to me, time that I guard fiercely. That’s no easy task when you have young kids and a telephone and email and a to-do list! Yet, it’s a battle worth waging in order to see Him, hear Him, feel Him, know Him.
Yesterday, though, Bible study was in the minivan, on the Kindle in the carpool line, with prayers that sounded like this, “Dear Jesus, baby teething. Please help. Love You. Amen.”
This week, I read in My Utmost for His Highest:
“Watch how your Father will upset your schedule if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes. We say, ‘I can’t do that right now; this is my time alone with God.’ No, this is your time alone with your habit . . . The only supernatural life is the life the Lord Jesus lived, and He was at home with God anywhere.”
Oswald Chambers wasn’t advocating not spending time alone with God. He wasn’t saying, “Forget trying to read your Bible and pray; it’s not important.”
It is important. That time is necessary and life-giving.
Yet, it is also not a vending machine where I make an investment in time and pay the required amount (quiet time, study materials, journal, tea) and receive in return treats and goodies (peace, feeling close to God, receiving inspiration, having something great to write in my journal).
There’s that danger, always the danger, of making a god of something other than God. I can worship the time I spend with God or I can worship God Himself. The distinction is so fine, but also so necessary.
Jacob had a God-encounter at the same place twice in his journeys back and forth in his dash from family crisis to family crisis and back again.
The first time, he had a divine dream in the night and “called the name of that place “Bethel” or House of God.
Years later, after marrying and having children, having his named changed by God, traveling home to Canaan, reconciling with his brother, and settling again in the family land, Jacob stopped there again.
This time, though, “he built an altar there, and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed Himself to him when he fled from his brother” (Genesis 35:17). El-bethel means God of the House of God.
Bethel: House of God
El-bethel: God of the House of God
The first time, Jacob focused on the place, the things, the experience. The second time, after years of experience and maturing, Jacob focused on God Himself.
Beth Moore in The Patriarchs wrote that sometimes we are tempted to “love loving God more than we actually love God.”
There are these life moments when God shakes us up in all of our comfort and complacency and takes away even something good for a time, so that we can worship God and not a spiritual habit. He’s not just longing to meet us during official quiet times or in holy places.
He’s there with us at the kitchen sink and in the minivan, too, willing to speak to our hearts as we wash the dishes and carpool and rock that teething baby.
The distinction between a mundane task and a sacred moment is whether we’re listening to God while performing it.
Originally posted May 18, 2011
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2014 Heather King