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Taking a step

Earlier this week I wrote about two themes in my life right now—surrender and abiding. Since then they’ve been on my mind a good deal and God has been developing those thoughts further. For a couple weeks now, God’s been pushing me to be more intentional about spending time with him. I try to do it before class in mornings, amid getting breakfast and getting ready for class and all. But I’m usually still asleep while I’m eating breakfast, and don’t really wake up until the last moment when I throw some clothes on and shove my iPad into my bag as I take off for class. And so I’m just not spending the time with God that I should be. And the last couple weeks, as God has been telling me to be intentional about my time with him, I’ve responded by doubling up my efforts to wake up during that hour or so before class. But as Jesus pointed out about this very issue, the spirit is willing, but the body is weak. And, being Jesus, he knew what he was talking about. These past few days, I started realizing that 1) spending time with God is not something I should be doing; it’s something I need to be doing. The way I need to eat and sleep and breath. It’s essential to my survival. (I would have intellectually agreed to this before, but it was in writing that last blog post and thinking more about it afterwards that I began to really get it.) And 2) God’s been calling me to surrender, and the most valuable thing I can surrender to God these days is my time. And so I decided I needed to take clear, concrete steps to make it a major discipline in my life again. I decided I needed to rethink the idea that this had to be the first thing I do in the morning, because that just wasn’t working. I still want to try to at least start the day with a prayer, or sleepy effort at one, to get off on the right foot. But I would get far more out of my time in the Word and in prayer if I was awake for it (for obvious reasons.) So I sat down with a week view of my calendar and blocked out time each day that I could do it. My time with God is now on my calendar alongside classes, church activities, and shifts at the dining hall.

Related to that, God’s also been putting intercession on my heart again. It was a major part of my walk with God in 12th grade, and it needs to be again. Fighting for people in prayer is a core part of who God’s made me, but that part of me has been dormant since my “dark night of the soul” last year. It’s time it was resurrected. So I wrote down a list of people and things I want to pray for regularly, and broke it down into days of the week. I set each as a weekly reminder, to go off during the time I’m spending with God that day.

Now let me point out that this is not in my nature to do. I have resisted adding any kind of structure to my time with God, because for one, I am not that kind of person (if you’re familiar with the Myers-Briggs test, I am a P) and because I want to be open to the Spirit’s leading, rather than stuck in a rut and missing what God’s trying to do. I thrive on that flexibility. But there’s something to be said for having some basic structure to work from. In this case it was the only solution. And by no means does this mean I’m not open to God leading differently on any given day. It just gives me a new default to vary from. And I realized as I was writing this that, ironically, by implementing this structure, I am being flexible by giving up the way I’ve been doing things and moving with what God is doing.

I say all this not to brag about this great thing I’m doing or anything, but to give an example of taking definite, concrete steps towards this goal. I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one out of seven billion people on the planet who’s struggling with devoting time to God. But like I said, it really isn’t an option. I say that not from a legalistic standpoint. From the standpoint that, as I said in my last post, we can’t do this life thing on our own. We cannot hope to figure it out apart from God. Our only hope is to walk in step with him. Every day. Every minute. What did Jesus say, after 40 days without food, was more necessary for life than bread? And so I encourage you—I beg you—to do whatever you need to do to find that time. It may look a lot like what I described above. It might look nothing like it. It’s OK, God can probably handle it. He wants you. And he wants you to do whatever you have to do to be with him.

Maybe you’re doing well in this area. Well, then, is there some other area that God is challenging you in? That you’ve tried your best in but are getting nowhere? Something that you can sit down and come up with a definite roadmap for? Or at the very least, just a small but concrete step? I get the feeling that what I’m doing is only the first step towards something much bigger. But it’s a step. It’s the step that God’s showing me right now. He’ll light up the next one when he’s ready. Walking with God, remember? This is what that looks like. So ask God, What’s the first step? And take it.

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