The Overs bible study group has been challenged in our latest study to spend 15 minutes with God each day – building a relationship with him. This involves giving him time to speak with us as well as us telling him honestly how we are. It can take place anytime, anywhere and anyhow. We commented on just how easy it sounds – no formula, no difficult ritual. But we also commented on just how easy it is to be distracted by our busy lives.
Maybe it’s appropriate in this season of Lent to think for a moment about the distractions that Satan used to try to separate Jesus from God.
Jesus was hungry so Satan started with the basic human need and suggested Jesus turned stones into bread. Jesus was well able to do this as he showed when he fed 5000 from 5 loaves and 2 fish. It wasn’t the doing that was wrong but the reason behind it. He was in the desert for quality time with God.
This morning I am working out whether to replace the cracked screen on my mobile phone or should I buy a new one? As I write this, it feels as if the amount of thought it is taking is the very essence of our materialistic society. I marvel at the way the word “materialism” has taken over from the word “greed” – it has subtly changed the meaning from wanting more than our share to feeling an entitlement to everything we want. We in the western world are all guilty of expecting to have more than our share. Maybe this Lent we should try to simplify our lives in one small way so that we have less stuff to distract us.
Next Jesus was tempted to jump off the top of the temple to prove that all the heavenly beings would scurry around and catch him before he crashed to the bottom – just for the fun of proving that God loved him – of putting God to the test.
How often do our prayers resemble a shopping list of things we want God to do? If you do this Lord then I will love you more …. believe in you more …… have more faith in you. And then we rush back to our busy lives without waiting for God to reply. If we have faith in God, trust him and love him, shouldn’t we want to spend time with him as we would with anyone else we love. I know that because my opportunities to talk to my son in Canada are limited, they are very special to me. The first things we talk about are never “I need you to do this … and this and this” but “How are you? Is everything OK?” Maybe this Lent we should treat God like a friend when we talk to him.
Finally, Satan offered Jesus power over the whole world if he would worship him – he offered him a shortcut. None of this awful frustration of 3 years with stubborn difficult humans and a horrible death on a cross to finish, just a quick bow down and it’s all done.
This leads me to suggest that we should be thinking about how we do things and not so much on the end result. I remember saying as I left school “I could never be a teacher”. Some years later I found myself teaching admittedly not in a school environment but in the workplace. Even so this was where God – via a very circuitous route – had led me and it formed a short but enjoyable and challenging part of my life. Do I really believe that I know better than God what is good for me? Maybe this Lent we should focus on listening to how he wants us to do the next thing and be less concerned with managing the final outcome?
May this Lent be one when you know closeness with God.