Is God on Your Google Calendar?
Friends invited us to have dinner the other night and I found myself saying, “Just name a time and place and we’ll be there!” When it comes to meeting with friends, we’re often eager to make time in our busy schedules. In fact, the first thing my husband and I do is mark it on our family Google Calendar, so we don’t forget. But when it comes to God, well, time with Him is often the first to be squeezed out by other seemingly more important things. God is nowhere to be found on the Google Calendar.
But whenever I stumble across Jesus’ example, I am always reminded afresh of how meeting with God was a priority in His life:
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
I don’t think they had alarm clocks or snooze buttons back then, but somehow Jesus had the discipline to roll out of bed – while it was still dark – to go off to a quiet place to meet with His father. I love picturing Jesus rising from his floor mat, tip-toeing out of the house where he was staying and all groggy-eyed wandering to where he could get away from the busyness to a quiet, undisturbed place. He probably struggled some mornings to rise so early, just as we do, and was tempted to sleep in a bit longer. And there was certainly no Starbucks on the way to put that extra pep in his step! So what are we to make of this little scene we’re given here right in the beginning of Mark’s gospel? Clearly, the writer was trying to communicate something by sharing these details. But what?
If time with God matters to Jesus, who was God himself, it should matter to us.
We’ll talk in later posts about what to do during our time with God, but for today, the thing I take away from the passage above is the importance of setting a time and place. My sister was just telling me last night how she feels so blessed to have children who go to bed so easily each night. When I asked her what the trick is, she didn’t hesitate, “Routine.” Without a doubt, she believes the set rhythm they have established each night: dinner-bath-stories-bed, dinner-bath-stories-bed….repeat, has been the key to successful bed times. In a way, this consistent rhythm has programmed the children (as strange as that sounds) to want to go to bed each night. Even when they are running behind, the kids will wait by the stairs, anticipating the bath-story-bed time routine even before the parents signal to them its time. They love it. They anticipate it. They look forward to it.
Not only did I file this away as an excellent parenting tip for future reference, but I wondered if the same principle could be applied to our quiet times with God. As creatures of habit, establishing a set routine can help us be consistent meeting with God each day. Mornings have become my set time to meet with God, so the second I get that coffee going, it signals to my heart and soul that its time to meet with God. I love it. It doesn’t have to be the morning, but as Simon Robinson says in his book Improving Your Quiet Time,
“It provides a good start, it gives you something to take into the day and it focuses your mind on the Lord before you throw yourself into the activities that lie ahead of you.”
I wholeheartedly agree. However, there is no hard and fast rule about this. The important thing is to set aside a regular time each day to get away from the distractions and be with God.
Author James Borst, who writes on the topic of contemplative prayer offers some tips on how to be consistent with our God time. He suggests examining our commitments – family, profession, church, recreation – and within that framework to plot a “daily appointment” with God, which we can endeavor to keep as faithfully as possible. Thinking of our time with God as an appointment, just like an appointment we would set with a friend, colleague or boss, might help to prioritize it in a different way.
As I examine my own life, I can definitely see how the setting of a distinct time and place does make a difference in the quality and consistency of my time with God. I have to admit, it’s been more of a challenge than ever before these last couple of years. As I have mentioned before, my husband and I are living in a one-room flat, which has diminished every ounce of privacy we ever had! It is also our first year of marriage, so working out rhythms of seeking God together and individually has also been a learning process. We love spending time seeking God together through His Word and through prayer. But we also know the value of setting aside time to be with God individually. Lately, I feel myself craving for private, quiet, undisturbed time with God and am hopeful it will come as we adjust into this new season of life.
I think we will all have times when our rhythms, patterns and routines change and evolve, whether due to a new job, marriage, having children, and going in and out of different seasons of life. But at the end of the day, we all must ask ourselves, God, am I putting you first? Do I value our time together enough, that I will make time to be with you? I believe when we resolve to love God with our whole hearts and express our desire to spend time with him, even though we don’t do it perfectly each day, he will work with the complexities and intricacies of our lives to help us prioritize Him, above all else. I am definitely in need of that right now!
Today, let’s take some time to ask ourselves:
- Is time with God woven into the pattern of my life?
- Where do I go to meet with God?
- What habits and routines have worked or not worked for me in the past?
- What changes can I make so that my appointments with God are the top priority and highlight of my day?
If all else fails, get God on that Google Calendar. My prayer is that the times we set to be with Him will increasingly go from being a nagging discipline that we know we should do each day to a necessity that we absolutely cannot live without each day.