When was the last time you went on a date? Maybe it was a fancy meal outside, or maybe it was as simple as a latte at your favorite coffee shop. We all know that keeping relationships strong and flourishing requires a devotion of time and effort. Just like with our other important relationships, setting up a date with Jesus is a great way to spend quality time with Him. And, carving out time to spend with Jesus doesn’t have to be a scheduling nightmare, in fact, it can be quite easy.
Thankfully, this Florida household has finally settled back into some normalcy after the spring and summer of imbalance. The holidays were still different and lacked the usual parties, meetings, and functions that usually fill the books from November through January. Even as a former educator, having my two boys at home during the pandemic left me feeling out of sorts a lot of the time. Virtual learning started at 7:45 am and went full force until 2:00, with a quick lunch break and thankfully some “PE” time outside (sorry, neighbors, for the constant stream of baseballs being hit over the fence). I was extremely appreciative of our teachers as they kept my two boys very busy but they still required my presence (which required me to be patient). Yes, I know that scripture promises that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28) but many minutes during the day had me looking up, praying for peace. Two dogs, two boys, plus a working-from-home husband resulted in a house that was a flurry of action and noise. I didn’t have much peace in my day, and I couldn’t escape very far to find respite. Day after day, plans, activities, church, weddings, fundraisers, all cancelled and night after night we were home, cooking, and playing outside together, which was indeed special albeit different, but not having a single plan for weeks on end left me feeling dismal and even isolated at the same time.
I found that having daily conversations with the Lord helped right this ship. Instead of reading more news, I’d pause and just fill God in on my morning. He was a great listener! Isaiah 1:18 “Please come, and let’s reason together,” implores the Lord. “Even though your sins are like scarlet, they’ll be white like snow. Though they’re like crimson, they’ll become like wool.” This verse found its way into my day one afternoon when I was feeling especially lonely. Most of our sports and practices had returned to the schedule, and my conversations with God dwindled. I hadn’t scheduled time with our Lord, our creator. Don’t get me wrong—He wasn’t angry—He just needed some undivided time from me. Gosh, I’d taken good care of everyone else around me! How did I miss this?!
Even though I often resist this truth, God is the one in control and if we overlook this fundamental attribute of God, His sovereignty, I was merely living by chance. Day after day of going through all the motions and not giving enough time to Jesus. I needed that encouragement and I needed His ear. All the other pieces of my life were being put back, but had not nurtured my relationship with Jesus. I’d expected this relationship to grow itself.
As social creatures, even as we navigate through this Coronavirus, we make plans with people we care about and with those who bring good company. How about inviting Him to spend time with you? Carve out a date with Jesus! He won’t say no. It’s a sure bet. You’ll also have His full attention the entire time. Try it. It doesn't have to be formal. Hop on your bike or go for a walk in the park. See nature. Point being, schedule a conversation with Jesus where you can pour out your heart and feel His presence. Talk to Him. You’ll find that the time alone with Jesus will inject energy, power, and strength into your heart. Now that bible studies are resuming, committing to a weekly study is a guaranteed date with Jesus. So many studies are online—CBS, BSF both offer in-depth, nondenominational bible study that encourage you to set up a daily date with Jesus in His Words, and the fellowship shared is also a beautiful facet of joining such. Proverbs 31 is another great resource for an independent study where you’ll hear The Word of the Lord.
Finally, with holidays in the past and spring almost here, our days are finally resuming normalcy. As a child of God, we live under His control and we have to trust Him to carry us through these days. He wants to be IN our plans. He wants us to be present with Him and draw near to Him. In the planning of your day, position yourself to hear from God. Now’s a great time to commit to communicating with our Savior. Open your heart and open your ears to His Word. You might feel tired and these are tiring times (and sometimes I even tire of hearing that expression). Jeremiah 2:32 reads, “Does a young woman forget her jewelry? Does a bride hide her wedding dress? Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me.”
If I’ve learned nothing from this pandemic, it’s that the plans we have are merely an erasure away. Nothing but our Lord’s word is written in stone. Everything else is worldly! Without spending time with God, I lose focus on Him. Plan a conversation with Jesus, our best friend. Express to Him what’s on your heart—big and small. Share your daily desires. Praise what’s going right in your life. Let Him listen when you’re talking to Him. He won’t disappoint, He won’t be late, and He is trustworthy.
If this sounds like a struggle, it’s ok to pray for a hunger for God’s word! Ask Godly friends to pray for this for you, too. They will. James 4:8 reminds us, Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. As you are penciling in appointments, meetings, and calls on your calendar this year, try adding in a weekly date with Jesus. He is waiting to hear from you, He is waiting to encourage you, He is waiting to give you abundant life, and that, my friend, is a date you don’t want to miss.