On a gray, snowy day 5 years ago our family moved to Michigan. As I was recently thinking about that season of our life, a favorite memory came to mind.
Every Sunday we would visit a different church trying to find a body of believers in a place where we literally knew no one else. One Sunday we found ourselves for the first time at a church where there was a guest speaker. The boys were with us in the service and they listened carefully as the speaker shared his experience of distributing Bibles in a remote place overseas. He talked about one little girl who had walked several miles to come to his location for a Bible. By the time she made it to him, though, there were no more Bibles in his possession left to give. Tragically, as she walked back home that day empty-handed, she was hit and killed by a vehicle. As you might imagine at this point in the story, the speaker had the rapt attention of his audience. He asked, "Do you love God's word enough that you would be willing to walk several miles and even risk being hit by a car to have it in your hands?" The silence in the room was intense as the man seemed to look at each audience member carefully for an answer. Suddenly our 4-year-old's voice loudly proclaimed, "Um... NO!" I can laugh about it now, but we never did go back to that church again!
The funny part of that story is that our son said what most were probably thinking, but would never admit. We say we love Jesus all the time, but those three words are very serious. I honestly find it insulting when someone who doesn't really know me says them to me. I'm always tempted to ask what, exactly, they find so endearing. I wonder if Jesus might ask the same of us?
The thing about being in a relationship with God is just that - it's a relationship. It goes two ways and we have to do our part. We're told to seek God (Jer. 29:13). How can we love or follow someone we don't really know? Our actions always reveal what we truly love and that fact demands constant self-examination. The only way to learn about and love the Lord with our whole hearts is to regularly spend time with Him. It isn't someone else's job to open our Bibles and respond to the conviction and leading of the Holy Spirit - it's ours.
The speaker's question that day may have been more relatable to the audience if he had asked something like this, "Are you willing to put down your screen to spend time with Jesus?" Though we may never admit it out loud, many of us might relate more to the brutally honest answer of a certain 4-year-old on an infamous Sunday morning. Though it may be where our hearts are now, today doesn't have to define tomorrow.
Let's do something together and make a resolution: Schedule and make time for Jesus today. Using the same words a humbled king once did, let's ask God to answer this prayer in us: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me (Psalm 51:10-12).