Bonding time …

13 Mar

Have you ever noticed how it seems when you are doing your best to try to focus and be intentional with your devotions and spiritual disciplines, life creates a myriad of distractions.  While I read several bits of scripture and a couple of devotions this morning, my ability to connect with God was undermined by two cats.  As I concluded my reading and began to type they began crying outside my door.  Once let in they wrestled on the bed.  After much hissing and growling the separated and began to attack furniture, eat boxes and generally go berserk.  Today it was the cats, yesterday it was the children, the day before an urgent phone call.  Everyday there is something that attempts to draw me away.  I am thankful that I am stubborn, and I am thankful that this project is a promise I made to God.  Otherwise it would be very easy to quit with the standard brush-off:  “I’m too busy…I don’t have the time.” 

Life will always lay out distractions and obstacles that will keep you away from this “bonding time” with God.  There is always something that seems more urgent or something that will “just take a moment” but inevitably pulls us away much longer.

Often these distractions are little nuisances like excessively playful cats, but sometimes these distractions can be monumental:  the loss of someone we love, the suffering of our children, heartache in relationships, unemployment … while silly cats can be shooed out the door, many of life’s distractions can’t be.  Everyone could empathize with letting a few things slide during these times.  These are the times when we carry each  others loads because we know how much attention these struggles require.  However, even in the midst of hardship we must save time for God – I think we could argue during this time it is more important than ever to hang with Him.  While our friends can pray on our behalf, I think ultimately this just serves to strengthen us so that we won’t lose that connection with God throughout our trials.

A part of the scripture I read today involved Jesus’ temptation in the desert (Matthew 4).  As much as I would like to imagine I can relate to the trials He endured, I really can’t.  Today we “fast” through various means of sacrifice and even those who participate in a literal fast, generally aren’t going without food for forty days.  While self-inflicted, Jesus must have felt physically weak and maybe alone.  It’s so hard to empathize with Jesus knowing His perfection and that perhaps he “gets it” where I don’t, but figuring that God made Him fully man as well I have to figure He experienced some of my frustrations and, while not yielding to them, my weaknesses.  How easy would it have been to be distracted by an offer of food.  I can tell you, my mind would’ve come up with nine-bazillion justifications why it was OK and that really God probably wanted me to have the food.  I think sometimes life’s distractions are like the bread in the desert.  They distract us from our purpose and they seem urgent, important or reasonable to yield to.  Ultimately though by yielding to them, by allowing them to have priority over our relationship with God we have actually denied ourselves nourishment … the Bread of Life … the Living Water.  “But he answered, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”” (Matthew 4:4)

Sometimes we allow our own insecurities or shame to distract us as well.  I read a lovely devotion a fellow wrote about having difficulty engaging with God during his devotion time and that ultimately he was excessively distracted and ready to give up.  In the midst of his devotion time, his dog urged the man to let him out.  (See how distracting these pets can be.)  While his puppy wandered in the rain, the man asked God to help him … meanwhile the man waited and waited for his puppy to come inside.  This extended time outdoors in the rain was uncharacteristic of the puppy who was not fond of rain or cold.  While he called for the dog, he did not return.  After much concern the man went out in the rain to find him and discovered the wet puppy shivering in the rain with shameful eyes and a torn bag of garbage nearby.  Naturally the man knew the nature of his dog and was not thrilled to have the mess to clean, but mostly wanted the puppy inside, warm and dry.  God was able to allow him to see that he was like his puppy, distracted by the world and then to ashamed to come in out of the rain.  Of course the most famous Biblical example of this is the Genesis story where Adam and Eve hid from God, ashamed.   “But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’  He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.'” (Genesis 3:9-10)

Life will always have something that it puts out in front of you as a reason not to take the “quiet time” to connect with God.  Often we question whether God even cares or if it even matters.  We know that it’s important to do our taxes, to get the laundry caught up, but sometimes, particularly in times of trial, we find it hard to remember why “quality time” with God is an important priority and actually eases our burden and enables us to manage everything else.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

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