Intentional Time

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Eph. 5:15-16

I recently attended a seminar where a lecturer recommended creating a blog as a means of practicing the spiritual discipline of journaling. While I wrote for other blogs in the past, I hadn’t made an effort to create a personal one. This is due to a variety of factors, but two have frequently won the day:

1) The internet seems blog weary. Everyone, anywhere is writing one, and I didn’t see a need to add to an already saturated market.

2) There are already a host of substantive, spiritual blogs which say far better things in much better ways than I can.

So, initially when this lecturer mentioned blogging, I almost tuned him out. But the concept of sanctifying a blog for my spiritual growth, and possibly the growth of others, intrigued me. I have no illusions of this blog going viral, but I do hope that it provides a safe place for my personal meditations, and possibly encourages or challenges others to think deeper, more longing and loving thoughts about our God. I’m afraid we are often satisfied with the low hanging fruit of faith: after ascertaining a certain truth, we put it in our pocket and move on to the next. It reminds me of my children at Christmas time: they grab, they unwrap, they glance, they thank, and they move on to the next. There is a shallow appreciation, but no deep meditation; no hungering or thirsting after thicker things. We are content with reading a few lines of scripture at break, but would balk at reading an entire epistle multiple times during the week.

I can say “we” because I recognize my own struggle of faith. I am too easily pleased far too often. It isn’t simply intellectual laziness (although it is often that as well) but spiritual lethargy. This is due, I believe, to our misunderstanding of the study of the Bible. Many times we open scripture in order to know facts (the books of the Bible, the period of the Judges, the Ten Commandments, etc.). There is nothing wrong, and much that is right, about this. Too few have these biblical bones in their exegetical skeleton and meat of the word has nowhere to go.

That being said, the flame of faith is fanned when we recognize that our reflection on scripture is not simply a pursuit of facts, but a pursuit of the Father. We know scripture so that we can know God better. The Shema illustrates this point well: Hear, O Israel:

The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:4-9).

Notice: God’s covenant name is declared (YHWH), his nature is explained (one) and fidelity is nurtured (love the LORD). These three elements (God’s name, nature, and the nurturing of our relationship with Him) are the natural end of the next command: to know the law of God. This is further explained in the next verses:

And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build,  and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. (v. 10-13).

God’s law became the means of combatting idolatry within the nation, and thus challenged any contenders for the affections of His people. God’s truth wasn’t intended as the end, but a means to the end of knowing Him. This was a truth that the Pharisees would later fail to recognize.

The reality that a transcendentally powerful, immensely beautiful, incomprehensibly holy, unmeasurably good God lies just around the corner of your daily Bible study should invigorate you. Just as the long hours of a vacation road trip become the means of family bonding because of the excitement of the destination, our study and meditation of scripture should be transformed by the truth of God’s presence.

But this truth doesn’t occur through a simple glance of the text; it requires intentional time with the word. It requires that we conquer the clock for Christ; that we buy back our moments for meditation. If time were a sacrifice on the altar, which God would you be worshipping? We must return to substantive meditation and reflection on the word of God. The transformative process of the Spirit occurs when the word of Christ dwells richly within us (Col. 3:16; 2 Cor. 3:18).

That is why I titled this blog “Redemptive Reflection.” This will be a place where we can think more deeply about the text, and thus think more deeply about our God. To reflect and to praise; to love and obey; to wonder and adore.

Prayer

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! It is your holy Name that we long to know. Let it give us courage in the day, and comfort in the night. We pray by your mercy that you will grant us one wish: a constant sense of your abiding presence. To see you with eyes of faith, to know you with a heart of love, to seek you with a mind for truth, and to serve you with trembling hands. For from you, and to you, and through you are all things. Amen.

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