by Alexei Laushkin
So how do we end up creating space in our life for God, for our faith to flourish, for our inner man to grow? How do we grow in daily confidence in order to trust an all gracious and all merciful Lord?
Does such space just happen because we desire it?
How many times have you opened the scriptures or set aside time for prayer and been left feeling that it was rather root and lifeless.
How are we to create such space and such a life for ourselves that we might more fully take on the character and characteristics of Christ.
The Gospels Point to the Way
The beatitudes have some very telling examples. Let’s take a look at some of them in the Gospel of Matthew. Here’s Matthew 5:6:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
And Matthew 5:8:
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
When I was in college I can remember reading the Sermon on the Mount in this way. So when I read Matthew 5:6. Blessed are those who thirst and hunger for righteousness, I thought to myself, oh Jesus means, blessed are those who really want to be righteous. So if I really want to be righteous than I’m blessed.
It took me years to think differently on some of these passages. Or consider the Psalms. Psalm 34:8:
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Taste, see, thirst, hunger.
These are all bodily senses. We taste, we see, we thirst, we hunger. When we want food and we don’t have it, we hunger. When we want water and don’t have it we thirst. When we taste we are satisfied. When we see, we believe.
Now let’s go over to the resurrection account in the Gospel of John. Here’s Jesus when Thomas sees him and believes. John 20:29:
Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’
The senses. They are a powerful tool for confirming and strengthening our faith, and just as powerfully thinking on the beatitudes, working the senses to hunger for Christ the way we hunger for food, to thirst for righteousness the way we might thirst for water, to cultivate the inner eye so that it does see and believe, and to desire the things of God, this takes grace and the physical interacting in such a way that the physical in our life changes.
We are so driven by our senses, that to attune our senses to the things of God is the first step to making time for God. Most of the time when we are having trouble making any time for God it is because our bodies and senses are operating according to a different principle.
If you were a school teacher and in the middle of a lesson to your students you were asked to do a task that was too outside of what you were doing (say prepare a meal), your mind and body would not and could not easily orient to this task being presented in the middle of your focus being elsewhere. You would literally fumble around and likely get irritated for being distracted from the task at hand.
Something very similar happens to our spiritual life, without focus and without the nourishment we need to depend on God and to know that more deeply, we can not bring ourselves to any attention to the things of God.
The Good News
Making time with God, especially time that engages our heart, mind, body, and soul is life giving work. If you attend to the Lord, it will be a rich blessing in your life. For some people, your life might be too busy, and you might literally have to take time away in God’s creation, or a special place that’s important to you to even start. For others, it may be a matter of not trying to fit God in to a busy life, but applying basic Christian principles to your work life or to your home life.
You might decide this week Lord I am going to focus on gratitude, and put attention to saying thank you to everything that you receive. Might be a routine work matter or a simple thank you for a greeting, but if you put attention to letting your faith sink more deeply into your life, you’ll start seeing more and more where you’d like to put your focus.
Growing in Christ, and growing in dependence, is a lifelong endeavor. There are guides for reading through scripture (click here or here), learning how to pray (click here), finding resources for your kids (click here), and on and on and on.
Finding a good spiritual mentor or brother or elder may very much help you and encourage you in growing in time with God. But if you are having trouble start thinking about how your focus and your spiritual life interacts with your physical life and you’ll quickly find tools and places to grow.
Alexei Laushkin is Vice-President of the Evangelical Environmental Network, a Board Member of the Kingdom Mission Society, and writer of the Foolishconfidence blog. His views are his own.