Welcome back to the regularly scheduled programming, as my friend Megan says. 🙂
As I was praying about what to write for today, I kept thinking about the words “date night.” Before we get in to what the words “date night” have meant to me lately, I want to remind you of an earlier message.
I recently wrote a blog post about our engagement in church services compared to our engagement at sporting events… how we have sour faces in the pews but ones of ecstasy in the stands. Today, I want to spend time talking about our focus.
So how many of y’all are like me?
I remember in college, I had to sit in the front row and away from windows. I had to force myself to take notes constantly… if not, my attention drifted to the squirrels or the birds outside… to fried chicken Wednesday or what delicious pizza they were serving in the MAX (this was pre-vegan, of course)… to the squeak that was coming from somewhere to my left… to the cursor that the professor had left blinking in the middle of the computer screen…
Oh wait? What was that? You mean the lecture continued? How are we on slide 30 when we were just on slide 2?
This not only happened to me in college, but I find it happening in church services… in my quiet time with God… in group Bible study… anytime my attention should be on God.
So, how many of y’all are like me?
You’re in the choir loft “singing praises to God,” but your focus tends to be on the faces staring back at you or the clock on the wall.
You’re in the pew staring idly in the pastor’s direction, but your focus is on what you’re going to eat in a few minutes… and how you hope you beat the crowd.
You’re in your designated prayer place at home, but your focus is on that email that just “swooshed,” or that text that just “dinged,” or that calendar event that just popped up.
And if you’re like me… you’re in group Bible study, but all of a sudden, you have the perfect message for a blog. So, your focus turns to your laptop and the words that you’re hastily typing on your screen.
“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.”
What God has been showing me, through a CD full of short messages that I received for Christmas this past year and through a writing program called COMPEL, is that we have to view any interaction with Jesus as “date night.” When we’re in the choir, practicing or actually in service, our focus should be on Jesus.
When we’re in the pew, we should have our pen out taking notes, with our focus on Jesus.
When we’re in that place of prayer (for me, it’s my late grandmother’s yellow rocking chair), we should put those phones and laptops on “do not disturb” because our focus is on Jesus.
The last one got me… because I just struggled with this yesterday… Sometimes, even other “good, wholesome” things of God distract us from God. What I mean is… my focus should have been on the group Bible study. It’s fine to quickly jot down the blog post idea and return my attention to the group leader. It’s another thing to lose focus on the group leader to type up a message that can wait until later. The fact of the matter is that I’ve dedicated or allotted two hours to this group Bible study, and that is where my focus should be.
So… date night? What does that look like with Christ? What does it mean?
Think about this for a moment. If you’ve ever been on a date with someone you really like, most likely your phone is nowhere to be found. You’re not answering someone else. Your focus and attention is entirely on the person that’s sitting across the dinner table from you or sitting in the theater seat beside you… and their full attention is on you as well. There are smiles and laughs (and hopefully pretty flowers) involved. It’s a joyous time… and a time that you don’t want to end. (Remember, it’s a person you like… a person you want to continue to spend time with—not one of those horrendous “blind date” set ups or first-dates-gone-wrong).
But what happens? Sadly, we tend to become complacent. If we’re not careful, we will cease to do the things that we did in the beginning. We’ll stare at our phones more than the face of the individual in our presence. We’ll watch television over having meaningful conversations with living, breathing humans beside us. We lose focus, and we become complacent because we lack discipline.
I feel as if when we first become Christians, it’s like going on a date with someone you really like for the first time. We call it “being on fire for God” down south. Your full attention is on Him. You can’t get enough. You’re going to every Bible study offered. You’re signing up for eGroups. You’re attending every activity. You’re spending hours a day in the Word of God alone. We don’t want the time to end.
And then… complacency creeps in.
All of a sudden, we check that one text. We let our mind wander to food. We don’t “budget” our time wisely and so spend about five minutes with God… but it’s ok…. or so we tell ourselves.
Just like with human relationships, we have to remain focused in our relationship with God in order to give Him our full attention and that takes discipline.
“After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray…”
“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”
Just like Jesus in these verses, I am committing to being more intentional with my time with God. I am committing to keeping my eye off the clock, or my stomach, or my phone, or even writing Christian blog posts. I am committing to treating my time with God every day like that very first “date night” when you’re young and in love. I am committing to focus, concern, and discipline. I am committing to a set time each day when it will be just me and God… because that is the only way that the relationship will grow—is if I invest time in it… if I cherish it… if I protect it…
Make time for God today. Have a date night with Him, friends… and not just today but every day. He’s pouring out His love into our hearts through His Spirit (Romans 5:5). Let’s pour love right back to Him.
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PICTURE IS NOT MINE