“I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)
If we lived in a rural existence, like herding a flock of sheep, or driving a tractor to plow a field, things would be quite different. But that’s not where most of us are.
Working in an office or factory, answering scores of emails, catching the news or following our favorite sport or TV series, we don’t consider our lives as being simple. There is the complex of modernity all around us. War in the Middle East, a new virus threatening the entire world, the Stock Market rising and falling unpredictably, and then there are the problems of our families, towns, and states. We cannot escape modernity. So, how do we find time to know God in all of this? With a life surrounded by distractions, how can we come to know Him?
Someone wisely said that repetition is the mother of all learning and discipline is its father. So what? What must we do to somehow push the world aside and find a way to personally get to know God?
Here are ways I am trying to fight the monster of modernity’s life distractions:
- I have been a convert to Christianity since I was six years old. I didn’t really know much about God then; and I’m still trying to discover more about Him. I have found that growing, “…in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”, (2 Peter 3:18) is not a weekend retreat. It’s a lifelong struggle, filled with both disappointments and personal achievements. I have never been a real scholar; but I have realized that life is not a joy ride. Getting to know more about God and personally commune with Him to discover His purposes will be my challenge until I someday meet Him face to face in the Person of His Son. I’ve got a long way to go on my pilgrimage to the Celestial City.
- I have experienced some discipline in my life. My father, being a Police Inspector, was really good at discipline – kind but firm. He did not spare the rod. Neither did my Heavenly Father. He has taken me to the spiritual woodshed many times. But the discipline I’m referring to is personal discipline. It was Julie Andrews who said, “Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.” Did she ever fly with her beautiful voice and thrilling music! Discipline of mind and schedule are imperatives to growth in grace.
- It’s been said, “The smallest package in the world is a man wrapped up in himself.” It’s easy to get self-absorbed. Narcissism is never a philosophy by which to live. It’s self-defeating and self-consuming. I’ve found one way to learn more of God’s grace is to share it with others. Whether by friendship, personal witnessing, or by prayer, opening ourselves to the lives of others is rewarding. One way I do it is by means of my Prayer Journal. In it I have photos and names of many folks for whom I try to pray with some regularity. I might not be able to speak with them, but I can speak through Christ, my intercessor, and the Holy Spirit, my prayer interpreter, to the Father on their behalf. (Romans 8:34 and 8:26-27). Prayer does change things. It changes me.
- Jesus was quite specific about the means of personal growth – both physiologically and spiritually. “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) As The Bread of Life, Jesus knew what He was saying. Although, somehow, we have such a hard time learning this. We stuff our faces with good food and stuff our lives with easily provided entertainment; but somehow we let days go by without cracking open one of the many Bibles we have in our homes. We are starving spiritually by failing to feed our spirits on the Word of God. And that is the primary way we come to know God. My advice: turn off the computer or TV and get in the Book.
- There is one person who is often forgotten – both in our personal lives and in worship in our Evangelical congregations: The Holy Spirit of God. What did Jesus say about the Holy Spirit? “He will guide you into all the truth…” (John 16:13). What was Paul inspired to tell us about what God wants to give us? “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God…Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” (I Corinthians 2:10-11). The Evangelical Church of our generation has committed a terrible blunder: pushing the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit to the periphery of our beliefs and teachings. We are wounding and grieving the Holy Spirit of God by not waking every morning and praying, “Blessed Holy Spirit, what do you have for me today?” He is much closer to us today than Jesus was to His disciples in the 1st Century, because He is the Life of God dwelling in our bodies.
Modernity clutters our world with a lot of “stuff.” And it chokes us from getting to know God. It distracts us from our main occupation, getting to know God. We must get back to “following hard after God,” or God will leave us to our little selves in a nation that God has abandoned.