Waste Time on God
I have struggled to articulate the value of “wasting” time with God over the years. In our modern culture, obsessed with accomplishment and fame, we describe our times with God as our “devotion” times. We take great stock in what God showed us and how vehemently we felt his presence.
We often feel if we didn’t get the tinglies or cry hot tears down our face then we probably did something wrong.
Like most things, we turn disciplines into performances.
We quantize, we scale, and we track our progress.
We prod each other, “Did you DO your devotions today?”
Now, it might not be obvious, but I believe there is a subversive and dangerous gravity that eats away at us when we look at our relationship with God as something we must do, as opposed to something we’ve been brought into. It’s a slippery slope when you break down a living-breathing connection into bullet points and “how to’s.”
Remember what Jesus said to Martha?
"You busy yourself with many things, but Mary has chosen what is necessary!"
He looked right into the eyes of Martha “do-gooder,” and He questioned her priorities.
And what did Mary do that Martha did not?
She sat at Jesus’ feet.
She just sat there.
Now, if you’re like me, my brain goes nuts if I try and sit in front of God for any great length of time. My prayer time usually includes me walking around in a field and babbling out loud. (which probably makes me look like a madman to any potential spectators) So, to just sit down in front of Jesus, would probably demand I straight jacket myself to a bed post or something.
My friend Jason stumbled across the following quote the other day, and it has renewed my heart for prayer. These following words have breathed into me new life and blanketed grace over my restless, poor praying heart. Besides, Romans 8 says we don’t even know what to pray for as we ought, so the Spirit intercedes for us!
Take heart, friend.
If you struggle to pray, to keep quiet, and tame your thoughts before God, know you’re not alone. And know that it pleases our father’s heart whenever you “waste” time on Him.
Time is best spent when it’s wasted on God.
"My hour in Carmelite chapel is more important than I can fully know myself. It is not an hour of deep prayer, nor a time in which I experience a special closeness to God; it is not a period of serious attentiveness to the divine mysteries. I wish it were! On the contrary, it is full of of distractions, inner restlessness, sleepiness, confusion, and boredom. It seldom, if ever, pleases my senses. But the simple fact of being for one hour in the presence of the Lord and of showing him all that I think, feel, sense, and experience, without trying to hide anything, must please him. Somehow, somewhere, I know that he loves me, even though I do not feel that love as I can feel a human embrace, even though I do not hear a voice as I hear human words of consolation, even though I do not see a smile as I can see a human face. Still the Lord speaks to me, looks at me, and embraces me there, where I am still unable to notice it. The only way I become aware of his presence is in that remarkable desire to return to that quiet chapel and be there without any real satisfaction. Yes, I notice, maybe only retrospectively, that my days and weeks are different days and weeks when they are held together by these regular "useless" times. God is greater than my senses, greater than my thoughts, greater than my heart. I do believe that he touches me in places that are unknown even to myself. I seldom can point directly to these places; but when I feel this inner pull to return again to that hidden hour of prayer, I realize that something is happening that is so deep that it becomes like the riverbed through which the waters can safely flow and find their way to the open sea."
-Henri J. Nouwen