Sunday, January 24, 2016

Lessons from Sadie: What Matters Most

Sadie is our family dog.  It is obvious what is most important to Sadie. There is something more important than chasing deer.  Even more important than doggie treats (which are incredibly important!).

The most important thing to Sadie is being with us, her family, her pack.  We see evidence of this in many ways.  Wherever we are in the house, she wants to be in the house.  When we are getting ready to go on a trip she desperately wants to get in the car.  When any one of us has been out of the house without her, even if we’re only gone for fifteen or twenty minutes, she greets us at the door when we return with great enthusiasm and an energetically wagging tail.  Even when I’m on a walk with her in the nearby farm fields early in the morning, she wants to be near me.  Sure, she’ll chase a deer across a field (and I love to watch her run!), but it is very rare for her to go somewhere where she cannot see me for more than one or two minutes.  Then she comes running back.  In fact, it’s because I know she wants to stay near me that I can let her off the leash in the fields.

So, what’s most important to us?  Just as being with her family is the most important thing for Sadie, being with our God should be the most important thing for us.  I want to be like the Psalmist, who wrote:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
(Psalm 42:1-2)

and also wrote:

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; 
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 
 (Psalm 84:2)

And I often feel like Moses, who said:

"If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15)

Christ Tomlin captured this theme beautifully in his song, “I Will Follow”.  You can listen to it here:

I want to go where you go!

Getting Real

Unlike Sadie wanting to be with us, I have conflicting desires.  The best part of me, and the deepest part of me, really does want to be close to God more than anything.  But I have other desires.  Wrong desires.  And I get so easily distracted by the world.  And my flesh (the sinful part of me) doesn’t really want to be with God at all.  And the Devil is working overtime to keep me as far from God as possible.

So what do I do when I honestly don’t feel the desire to be close to God?

Here is what I have found.  Sometimes I don’t feel like reading my Bible or getting down on my knees to pray.  But, when I do it anyways, I am always glad afterwards.  I honestly don’t think there has been a single time in my entire life that I took time to pray or took time to read the Bible and then afterwards felt that it was a waste of time.  I’ve felt like I’ve wasted time doing lots of other things, but I’ve never felt that way about the Bible and prayer.

So the best way to grow in our desire to be with God is to do things where we experience His presence.  I’m talking about prayer and reading the Bible and going to church.  The more we are with God, the more we want to be with Him.

The Vertical Church Band captures the idea that being with God changes what we seek in their song, “Spirit of the Living God”.

Getting Practical

I want to close with a few practical ideas.

For prayer, try one or more of the following:

1.  Start a habit of having an early morning prayer time.  I actually use a stopwatch to make sure I pray at least a certain amount of time.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve been praying a long time, then I look at my watch and see it’s only been six minutes.  Then I slow down.  And start to really feel the Holy Spirit directing my prayers and speaking to me.
2.  Schedule a time with a friend for the specific purpose of praying together.
3.  Start attending a prayer meeting at your church.

For Bible reading, try one of these ideas:

1.  Start reading through the Bible.  There are lots of reading plans online.
2.  Choose one of the following books or passages and read it once a day every day for a month:
                a.  1 John
                b.  Colossians
                c.  Philippians
                d.  The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
As you read the same short book over and over God will show you more and more and His truth will work deeper and deeper into your soul.

The world, your own flesh, and the Devil will try to interfere.  Be strong in Christ!

God Bless You,
Mark (with Hope and Joy!)

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

1 comment:

  1. Interesting and so helpful for those of us who yearn to draw closer and closer to God. Thank you Mark, your comments are always right on point. <><