Have you ever missed spending time with God?
I don’t know about you, but early along in my Christian experience, I picked up the idea that if I wasn’t spending a minimum of ____ [time] with God every day, I was running a risk.
You see, what if that day was my last, and I needed just a little more grace to avoid thinking a negative thought or saying the wrong thing before getting run over by a truck?
A few years later, I picked up the idea that it really wasn’t about quantity of time, but quality. Great! A new sense of freedom.
Yet the same problem stuck around. The idea that if anything went wrong and I didn’t stand that test—I made the wrong choice, or inadvertently neglected making the best one, I would have blown eternal life and heaven. Not to mention the in-and-out experience of falling along the way.
It reminds me of the well-known proverb:
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
Yet is that really the equivalent? Did everything hang on quality time dedicated to God? Is this why Jesus prayed all night?
As is often the case, problems often begin with presuppositions. The problem is that sometimes presuppositions are so obvious to our minds that we forget to check their validity and correspondence with scripture. In fact, we often aren’t even aware of them. This is what makes it so tricky to identify how we actually got to our conclusions.
What was my underlying presupposition?
Something about marriage and then becoming a parent made this a little more obvious. What was it, you ask? Covenantal love and acceptance.
I began noticing that sometimes, in a relationship, one messes up, misunderstands another, or outright does something just to be irritating. Not only that but as a parent, I noticed there’s a rebellious, deceptive streak inherent within sinful human nature that only takes a few months to begin popping up without any education or prompting.
Yet despite all of this, I’m still happily married and would never dream of disowning my daughter.
Are we more patient, forgiving, and loving than God?
Sometimes we treat God like an emotionally erratic vending machine. I put my coin in (i.e. quantity of time, or quality), and in return, expect _______. Didn’t pay enough? Too bad! This perspective is not a relationship, and any relationship running this way is a selfish, self-destructive mess just waiting to implode.
Surprise. It’s not about time. It’s not about the quality of the time spent or even doing all the right things. Sure, these are great building blocks of a functional relationship. However, a relationship can only function properly if love and acceptance are present. Without these, effort soon becomes slavery.
When love and acceptance are present, we don’t count minutes; we don’t worry about blowing it all over a little mistake. It’s more about a consistent, growing trajectory secure in another’s love.
So, if you’ve lacked this security in the abiding love of God, if you’ve seen salvation as an in-and-out, up-and-down experience, I invite you to hit reset and find in God one who will not let go unless you make it a matter of choosing to walk away. When you’re tempted or mess up, keep coming back to His open arms. Let Him lift you up to walk again with Him.