I often don’t feel like spending time with God.
Okay, good. No lightning strike, yet.
Two years ago, I wouldn’t have even let myself think this, much less say it, much less say it on the Internet. But I feel like it’s needed, because it’s true right now and because I have a feeling everyone’s felt this way before. That may be why you’re reading this.
If you ever feel this way, you probably feel guilty, just like I do. It feels sacrilegious or sinful because we “good Christians” are masters at saying, “I struggle with distractions when I spend time with God” or, “It’s hard finding time to spend with God.” Or my favorite, “I’m sometimes tempted not to spend time with God.”
It’s easier, isn’t it? It’s easier to use words like “struggle” and “temptation” than to truthfully say, “sometimes I dread having a ‘quiet time.'” See, I don’t just “struggle” with not spending time with God right now. I flat-out don’t feel like spending time with Him.
This guilt’s been eating at me for a while, and I finally decided it was time to stop. Instead of masking the truth and living with this vague sense of dread, guilt and numbness, I decided to figure out what was going on.
Why is it this has never been a struggle for me in the past and all of a sudden it is? Why is it that in college, I could spend hours in prayer and worship and feel refreshed and revived, and now, after five minutes, I feel frustrated, distracted and all my prayers feel scripted? Why does nothing seem to be hitting me where I am right now? Why can’t I push my way through this?
Sometimes, it’s just that way. I totally get that. Every relationship ebbs and flows. But this is different and I can tell.
And after doing some soul-searching, I think I finally scratched the surface on a few things about myself that are keeping me away from God. I’ll be sharing them over the next three days. So, for today, one of the things I realized is that …
1. I treat God like that old friend you never talk to.
I have friends and family scattered out literally across the globe. It is nearly impossible to keep in touch with them all. What makes it even harder is I feel that, to talk to someone, I have to have a two-hour long conversation with them every other week.
It’s not possible to do that with everyone, but still I wait until I have a two-hour block of time. I never do. I keep waiting, and then I feel bad. I feel like so much has happened in the time I’ve been waiting that the conversation needs to expand to three or four hours. I just don’t have that time. Then, when I finally hear Matt Wertz crooning “Sing My Lonesome Away” on my phone and I look down and see a call from that person, I feel both happiness and dread. Glad to finally be able to talk, dread that I will have to cancel my plans for the next 24 hours in order to have this conversation that’s been such a long time coming.
I’m sure I’ve missed out on hundreds of good, albeit shorter, conversations because I refused to pick up the phone when conditions weren’t perfect.
You can probably guess where I’m going with this. I set rules for myself based on my own personal history. The time I spend with God every day can be no shorter than the longest amount of time I’ve ever spent with Him. Anything less would be settling. I would be one of those “backslidden Christians” you hear about all the time. But I don’t have a two-hour block of time today to read and pray. So I put it off. And off. And off. Until the guilt finally swallows me whole and I have to confess that I’ll never have enough time. I will never have a block of time big enough or worthy enough to offer to God. So when I do finally come to Him, I spend my time apologizing, knowing full well it will happen again. On repeat. Probably for the rest of my life.
I don’t think God cares about our blocks of time, honestly. Because we really can’t offer anything to Him that’s worthy anyway. A four-hour quiet time doesn’t impress Him at all. He doesn’t need us. He does’t need our quiet times no matter how long or consistent or awesome they are.
I think spending time with God for me would change a lot if I actually believed He doesn’t need to spend time with me but wants to. I need Him, but He actually wants me.
I’ve been having to repeat a mantra to myself over and over lately.
Anything is better than nothing.
It’s true for most things in life, and for the perfectionist I am, I find it soooo hard to grasp. But I think God loves our imperfect progress, and I can pretty much guarantee He delights way more in 15 minutes of enjoyed and unrushed time with Him than an hour of consistent and begrudged obligation. Or skipping out altogether because we don’t have an hour to consistently or begrudgingly offer.
Ideally, when I actually grasp that He loves me, that’s when time won’t matter to me anymore. That’s how it’s always been for me in the past. Scheduling and guilt has only made me feel bitter and pushed me further away …