When Tom and I were first married, we knew a couple who were on fire for God and talked about Him all the time, constantly punctuating their conversation with “praise the Lord!” We would leave their presence choking for a breath of “normalcy” where life could continue without all the God-talk. I have to think that God is chuckling to Himself because we are now that couple, and as annoying as it might be to some, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
In the years that have transpired since, we have grown to know a God Who is not harsh and demanding, but loving, gentle, and selflessly giving. He even let us wander around for several years, experiencing failure in our personal lives and marriage, so that we could know the difference between doing life our way versus His way. Since then, life with Jesus as Lord has had seasons of ebb and flow that coincided with various family and career priorities. The low points were always when we forced the Lord to take a backseat to the stress of making it another day. That reality has led me to question why we, as Christ-followers, neglect what is needed most in handling the complexities of our lives.
Along with others, I learned the art of arrow prayers – those we shoot up in a moment of need – labeling it ongoing conversation. But as the Lord has pointed out, I was doing all the talking, expecting His instant intervention. It was a need-based relationship, rather than one of shared intimacy which is what He most desires. My busyness handling daily demands worked against the time required for a personal friendship with the God of the Universe. It was sad to realize I would carve out time to get to know a person I felt drawn towards, but was blind to the fact that my relationship with Jesus required the same effort.
So, in the constant hustle of activity here and now, how do we move Jesus from the backseat to the front? I believe it starts with intentionality on two fronts: desire for Him and willingness to learn of Him. That translates to reading God’s Word in context, rather than extrapolated or isolated pieces. His Word is His personal history from before the beginning of time to this present day, demonstrating His extraordinary, unconditional love, so hard for us to grasp because no human apart from the Son of Man has ever modeled it. His beautiful encouragement is that “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) The process of discovery in the seeking is so enthralling and thrilling that desire does not have to be mustered, but automatically grows.
The here and now offers many excuses to forsake the “narrow path” of time with the Lord (Matthew 7:13-14). That is also intentional, both on the part of the enemy who hates what God loves, and interestingly, on the part of God, as, “the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)
The Lord is searching for those who will prioritize intimacy with Him and do the arduous work of exposing and removing personal barriers. One such obstacle is our lack of trust in Him that is apparent every time we take control from God because we are projecting human failings onto Him. Equally daunting is recognizing where we subscribe to human wisdom, minimizing God as the Source of wisdom in the process. Intimacy allows Him to tell us deep and unsearchable things about ourselves that we do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3) It permits Him to make the changes that usher us into abundant life in Him. The process thereby equips us to step into the calling and purpose for which He created us. It is amazing to contemplate that God determined all the details of our lives before the beginning of time, and made the deliberate assignment that we should live at this time in history (Psalm 139:16). The question remains whether we will do the work of seeking Him to be effective for Him. If that is not the importance of the here and now, what is?