Friday, January 29, 2016

Back to HIM

Earlier this week I found myself sitting up in bed praying fervently. It was like my heart was literally spilling out from my lips, with the overflow cascading out from the pool beneath my eyes.

I felt like I had run a 3 hour marathon, non-stop, and was finally catching breath.
I'd crawled up from  a mile-deep desert bank and found a watering hole into which I had just enough energy to throw my stiff drained body.

Dramatic maybe.
But I did feel starved for God's presence and  the only sensible thing to do was to gulp him in the moment I felt Him near.

Washing over
Blanketing me in his presence.
I could feel the wave of light seeping into my soul- a  joy-peace. Because a hyphenated word is the only way to describe this celestial warmth flooding my being. Joy-Peace.

I thanked. I cried. I repented. I basked.

See the reason I felt so starved for the presence of God had to do with nothing else, except

I once again  had to recover from the trap of convincing myself that I put in enough GOD-time, hours before and felt justified in a little "me-time".

Oh what a lie that phrase has come to be to me- "me-time."

The problem with "me-time" is that "the eyes of a man are never satisfied" in the same way that "hell and destruction are never full". Proverbs 27:20 You see that? Just as hell and destruction are never full, so the eyes of a man are never satisfied.

This is why "me-time" can be such a sham.

Ok, don't get me wrong. If you're like me, "me-time" simply means some time to pull away, unwind, unplug, and take a break from the grind. It means enjoying a period to let your hair down, and settle in for a little amusement.
Often too literally.
Amusement means- without thought. Time where you don't have to expend thought energy sounds so nice, doesn't it? Take a break, brain. (HMMM?)

But here's the kicker. Me-time evolves.  It goes from simple take-a-breather time to "INDULGE ME- time." The eyes of a man are never satisfied. It transforms from a few minutes to unwind to an hour or more of mindlessly being tossed about with every wind of present desire. Or Not. Sometimes there is no tossing. Because some of the time, instead of being mindlessly tossed, I can be mindlessly stuck.

Trapped even.

And it's easy to recognize you've been trapped when you finally come to yourself, and come up for air, and wonder how you spent so much time without thought (Oh sorry I mean, amused). Maybe you've been there. When you look up from the screen, or the magazine, or the book, or the game, you feel - drained instead of refreshed.

Why is that?

The God-ordained gift of rest is sadly tainted when the focus turns inward for too long. Let me show you what I mean from two passages in the bible that come instantly to mind.

Mark 6:31
31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.
33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him.
34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them...

Immediately we see that the rest Jesus and his disciples need is absolutely necessary for him to go on. There is nothing wrong with rest. However, Jesus did not let that rest cause him to neglect his ministry. He was moved with compassion toward his ministry- serving people.

A clue to recognizing when your "rest" has turned me-centered instead of ministry centered, is how you feel when you come out of rest, or when that rest is interrupted.
 Are you ready to serve? Or are you begrudging to get back to it because it is interrupting your "INDULGE ME- time"?

The purpose of rest is to be refreshed to minister in whatever capacity and on whatever job we are. It matters not what occupation we find ourselves, service to people is almost always a component, no matter how far removed. The disciples could rest because they were with Jesus.

The other verse that comes to mind is in the Psalms.

Psalm 31:15
15 My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
And from those who persecute me.

Notice- the psalmist actually does refer to the time as "my times". So maybe "me-time" isn't the worst phrase after all. But the key here is what he refers to as "my-time", is in the hands of God. So essentially, what we have, truly belongs to God anyway. Time has only been allotted to us. When our time is in the right hands- God's-- deliverance is the result. And isn't that what the purpose of  "me-time" is? Deliverance from burn-out, exhaustion, and weariness?
To come out of a time of resting, drained rather than rested, proves we catered to the un-satisfiable flesh of ours. We took our time in our own hands. 

So what's the practical way to enjoy some time to yourself to recharge- some me-time?
Put it in God's hands.

As soon as you pull away, or take a seat,  or catch a breath, thank the Lord for the moment. Then invite him to govern your time. Invite him to order your rest. Go ahead and enjoy that book, or that game, etc. You'll realize that with God acknowledged first- there will be a conscientious decision as to what you engage in, and how involved  you become. Your ears will be inclined to hear the Spirit say, "OK that's enough" or "Let's talk."

So, in a moment of desperation, after realizing I paid more for "me-time" than I wanted, and feeling the effects of being drained rather than refreshed, I cried out to God, sorry for my decisive self- indulgence.

Instead of turning our back to HIM we must instead turn back to HIM. For only in the presence of the Lord, is our refreshing.

Acts 3:19
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,