Monday, November 23, 2015

How to make time for God

Has your hectic schedule crowded God out of your life?

Despite all the modern labor-saving devices--from microwave ovens to automatic washers--it seems as if we're busier than ever. Think for a moment how you spend your time.

Most of us spend eight to ten hours a day working and commuting. We sleep seven or eight hours a night. Subtract another hour for preparing meals, eating, and cleaning dishes. Take another hour off each day for bathing, shaving, grooming, and bathroom visits. Deduct an hour for watching TV news and reading a newspaper, and yet another hour for reading popular magazines or surfing the Internet.

Miscellaneous chores such as doing laundry, picking out clothes for work, cleaning your house or apartment, buying groceries, or gassing up your car cost you another hour each day. Watch a drama, sports, or a couple sitcoms on TV and you're down to no time available for God.

When you reach that point, it's time to rethink your priorities. If you're truly sincere about spiritual growth, the choice is obvious. You have to learn how to make time for a relationship with God. How much time you set aside shows how much importance you place on that part of your life.

But this problem is not new. In his short book, 'The Practice of the Presence of God', a seventeenth century French Carmelite known as Brother Lawrence revealed how to pursue God in even the busiest of days.

Brother Lawrence served as a kitchen helper in the Discalced Carmelite priory in Paris, from 1640 to his death in 1691. Cooking meals for 100 friars, using open fires and brick ovens, he vowed that he would not be so consumed with his duties that they would push God out of his life. So he talked to God constantly throughout the day.

No matter how busy you are, you can also adapt Brother Lawrence's simple strategy to focus your life on God. The first step, of course, is to re-commit yourself to this most important of all relationships. Then, start talking to God throughout the entire day. These short conversations may not seem like prayers, but they are. Thank God for your job and the income it provides. Ask for his guidance before making decisions. The more you bring God into your daily activities, the more you'll sense his presence.

Second, let your work unite you to God. No matter what kind of job you may have, honest labor brings dignity to you. It also gives you the opportunity to help others, whether they are your customers or coworkers. Your attitude can change your work from drudgery to an exercise in obedience that advances your spiritual maturity.

Third, remember that the only eternal aspect of your life is your relationship with God. The money you earn or the chores you do may be necessary, but you can't take them with you out of this life. By focusing instead on God and his love for you, you'll gradually realize your purpose for being here.

Fourth, learn to trust God. Brother Lawrence had a simple, childlike faith in his creator. You may feel that your education or sophistication demands a more intellectual approach to God. But that's not what God requires. When you recognize him as your loving, forgiving father, you will make a great leap on the path to true wisdom.

Finally, persevere. Brother Lawrence was a practical man who understood how much our minds can wander and what it's like to have a short attention span. He counseled a forgiving attitude toward yourself for these lapses. God is pleased with whatever effort you make to draw closer to him. Just as a parent encourages a toddler who stumbles and falls, God lifts us up to try again and again.

Whether you're married or single, you can make time in your life for God. He will meet even your feeble attempts by giving you a peace-filled, surprising sense of his presence. Like the father of the prodigal son, he is waiting and watching for you to come home.

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