One hot day, Blake Penland discovered how to spend more meaningful time with God.
The heat was exhausting just to think about. After almost five hours of work, my sweat had stopped dripping. It was now pouring out of my entire body!
Working in a shop under a non-insulated roof made the 45-degree temperature outside look comfortable. Wearing protective gear, I was grinding galvanised steel pipes by hand in a room that, under the sun’s rays, had turned into a furnace. My body was crying out for water.
I had to stop for a drink, for I knew my body simply could not keep going much longer. My throat was completely parched as I walked over to the ice chest that held my water bottle. I grabbed the bottle and took a quick swig of cool, refreshing water.
I could feel the water coat the inside of my throat like a soothing medicine. It was the best water I had ever tasted! I took another mouthful, savouring every drop. Being closer to the ice, the second mouthful was even colder than the first and it was also more satisfying, because I took the time to appreciate it. I felt even more refreshed than I had with my first quick swig, because I spent the time to drink deeply.
A To-Do List
As the water cooled my body, my mind turned to my spiritual life. I have been trying to spend more time with God each day and had decided to get up early enough to spend some devotional time with Him before starting the rest of my day—a resolve that proved somewhat difficult, since I had to start work at 6.30 AM and getting there required a 30-minute commute.
In addition to feeling physically drained, my spiritual life was spiralling down. When I took that second drink of cool, refreshing water, I realised that I had been treating my time with God like that first quick swig. Instead of savouring the minutes spent with my Creator, I was treating my devotional time like a checklist: Spent my time with God in Psalms 118. Check. Now that I got that out of the way, I can go about my business for the rest of the day.
Then there was another issue: I realised that I was looking for more meaningful devotional time so that I could feel better about myself and the state of my spirituality. I reasoned that if I read my Bible and prayed, I would obviously become a better Christian. I was, after all, having “devotional” time with God.
Simply put, I was wrong! There is actually nothing I can do to be a better Christian. Being a Christian means that I believe in Jesus, who has already done everything for a sinner like me.
Having a good devotional life doesn’t improve my standing with God. My time with God is not a moral obligation or requirement. It’s simply a response to the love and forgiveness that He gave me even before I was reconciled to Him (Romans 5:8–10). I realised that I needed to change what I got to do into what I get to do.
I don’t got to read the Bible every day so that I can defend my faith, understand the Word or live righteously. I get to read the Bible because Jesus Christ has given me the free gift of salvation and I want to have a better relationship with Him. Reading the Bible each day is simply my daily response to the God who saved me from my sins.
Sometimes I feel as though no matter how much I try in the morning, I just can’t find the time to spend with God.
I’m beginning to realise that this is because I haven’t been intentional with my time. If I’m trying to find time for God, I’m already fighting against myself and will more than likely fail to have a quality experience. I now intentionally set my Bible aside in a specific place the night before so I won’t have to hunt for it the next morning.
Because my relationship with God is continual, my morning worship should start the night before. I have to intentionally devote a certain period of time to God. Perhaps that’s why it’s called devotions. Just as I can’t just “hope” to spend time with the ones I love, just so I have to be intentional about how and when I devote time to God.
To Drink And Live
There is no pivotal moment of complete knowledge and understanding that one arrives at in the spiritual journey with Jesus. Rather, there is a continual relationship through which we grow in our love for Him.
The Bible tells us to “remain in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24). Daily devotional life is not to become all-knowing but to get to know the All-knowing One personally. I should spend more time getting to know Christ well than trying to know more about Him.
One of the primary purposes of daily devotional reading is for our daily life applications. We need to constantly search for ways to apply what we learn from our daily devotions to all areas of our life.
In her book The Desire of Ages, devotional author Ellen White, says, “It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit.”
When speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13, 14).
So take the time to drink in the water of life through daily devotions with God. And drink deeply, because the water at the bottom of the esky is so much more refreshing than just a quick swig off the top.