John B. MacDonald
/Monday, February 24, 2020
This post is the last in the series "Experiencing God." No matter who you are, I am encouraging fresh examinations and renewed beginnings in your relationship with the God who reveals Himself as Jesus Christ. We begin with two questions.
What is time? Who is God?
As for 'time,' do a google search for "what is time." You’ll get lots of ‘hits’ but no real answers.
A definition of time may elude us, but we do know a few things about it.
As for 'God,' we'll come to that a little later.
Three general observations
Here are three general comments about time and relationships.
First, if you aren't spending time with someone, you aren't building a relationship with that person.
In the first post in this series, “How’s Your Relationship with God,” I mention that many relationships weaken and crumble because we don't spend enough time together. This could be due to distance, busyness, or different priorities. Whatever the reason, if people don’t spend time with each other, they become detached physically and emotionally.
How’s your relationship with God? Is it strong and vibrant, or is it weak and distant? Is this a result of the amount of time you spend with God?
Second, spending time with someone doesn’t necessarily mean you are building an important relationship.
Over the years, I often noticed that the people who made the greatest demands for my time were the people who weren’t really that close to me or important in my life. For example, clients and customers make demands upon our time because they want something, not because they are enjoying or building a relationship that matters.
Those who love you and matter most to you don’t usually press you for your time. I’m thinking of your spouse, your children, and your good friends. Sure, they want to spend time with you, but they aren’t insistent.
Spend time with the people who are important to you.
Third, we only have so much time. Once it’s past, it’s gone – it can’t be recovered. Eventually, the last grain of sand falls through the neck of your hourglass.
We know that time is a diminishing resource. We only have so much of it – so we should use it wisely. As you get older, you realize how little may be left to you.
A helpful booklet (32 pages) on these points is Charles Hummel’s Tyranny of the Urgent.
How can these three observations help us use our time better for making our relationship with God stronger and more vital?
Four positive steps
Here are four positive steps for growing in your relationship with God.
Determine if a strong, vital relationship with God matters to you. Is it something you want to experience?
For me, this is a ‘no brainer,’ but I’ve met people who don’t seem to care, or say “no.”
If you do want a more vital relationship with the One True God, you’ll have to make some changes in your life, including how you use your time.
But first, voice your desire to enliven and strengthen your relationship with God. Make it a prayer, make it audible – and see what happens.
In my writing and speaking, I want people to get ‘real’ with God.
The word ‘god’ is a silly-putty word that people frequently use for something they've constructed that suits them. These do-it-yourself ideas about 'god' are usually vague projections of the people who design them.
Eugene Peterson puts it well. He writes that the name ‘Jesus’ gathers all the diffused vagueness about God “into a tight, clear, light-filled focus.”
If you want to know the God of reality, focus on Jesus. The One True God continues to reveal himself as Jesus Christ.
In the last number of posts, we have walked through an acronym that provides a framework for growing in our relationship with God: A. L. E. R. T.
You may want to review these posts and be intentional about how you develop your participation in this rich relationship: A for attending; L for listening; E for expecting; R for responding; and T for time – taking time with God. Here's the link to the first post in this series: “How’s Your Relationship with God.”
As with other relationships, be patient. Rich, vibrant relationships grow over time.
Consider keeping a journal: writing what you are learning and experiencing, recording your dialogues with God. Review your entries from time-to-time and let your heart and mind delight in your experience of God’s companionship through the heights and the depths of daily life.
If you want your relationship with God to grow and strengthen, spend time with Him.
I’ll end this series here – at least for now. What more can you add?
*This article was originally published on Living Theology and has been reposted with permission.
Photo Credit: ipsbmtc via Compfight cc
John B. MacDonald's focus is equipping and encouraging others to become more like Jesus Christ and to live all of life with God-honoring competence and joy. Since the 1970s, teaching the Bible and practical theology has taken John to four continents. In 2003, John chose between a busy practice in law and a full schedule of Bible teaching. His decision led to being pastor-teacher of a Metro-Vancouver church community, and now he continues serving, teaching, and writing with Outreach Canada. John B. MacDonald earned B.Com. and J.D. degrees (UBC), M.A. in Biblical Studies (Regent), and D.Min. (TWU). His doctoral dissertation combined his theological and legal backgrounds at the intersection of leadership, conflict, and spiritual formation. You can contact John B. MacDonald through his website Living Theology.