by Pastor Victor Chen
When I tell others how I spent extended time with Jesus during my sabbatical, I’m typically met with a courteous smile accompanied by a blank stare.
What does it mean to spend extended time with the Lord ? What does that look like?
It’s not as simple as reading the Bible. It’s easy to study the Bible to gain knowledge about God and not spend time with Him.
It’s not as simple as praying. It’s possible to pray as a religious activity and not spend time with God.
It’s not as simple as serving God. We can do a lot of ministry activity and not spend time with God.
What is it then?
I found it helpful to start at the beginning and see how life with God was meant to be. I then looked at the end when we spend eternity with God to see how life with God will be. Hopefully, then we can discover what life with God now is supposed to be like.
In the beginning when God created Adam and Eve, there was no need for Bible study or prayer. They communicated directly with God. There was no such thing as “serving God” because their whole life was spent with God and everything they did involved Him. (Genesis 1)
At the end, there will be no Bible study or prayer because we will be with God forever. There will be no serving God because our life will revolve around Him. Our lives will continually sing his praises in that eternal world of love. “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)
Our lives now in this fallen world should resemble the life we were meant to live with God at the beginning and at the end.
So we dive into the word of God to hear from Him. We pray to speak with HIm. We serve to work with Him the work of His kingdom.
Extended time spent with the Lord then becomes withdrawing and talking to God through prayer and journaling while listening to Him through studying His word and reflecting on it. It’s doing this while walking amongst his creation “for the heavens are declaring his glory.” It’s recognizing God in all things.
And as I transitioned from spending these hours, days and months with God during my sabbatical, I realize there is no difference now that I’ve returned. Yes, my times alone with God are dramatically reduced and I have to fight for these times to withdraw to the Father.
But my entire day, waking or sleeping, working or resting, at home or at the office, can be spent with Him - sharing my heart, reflecting on His word and inviting Him to join and live life together.
And really, that’s how life with God was always meant to be.