Possibly, we set aside time with God for a number of reasons. We need help. We desire growth. We think we “should” or think it is good for us. We want to know God, His plan and will for our lives. We may also have thoughts for what the time should look like or for what “works or doesn’t work.” Moses took off his sandals when he met God. The healed, lame beggar danced and rejoiced when he met God. Jesus often went to lonely places to be with His Father. Whether we are just starting out with God or more seasoned in years, we can always learn, grow and observe new things.
Meeting with God is essential to my relationship with Him. Jesus is the Bread of Life who gives me true sustenance. He is Living Water who quenches my thirst and longings. He is the Giver of Life, who knows me and loves me. He is my Shepherd who guides my path. Over the years though, I have noticed a few things in particular which move me to meet with God and draw me to Him
To be with Him
First, to meet with God is an opportunity to be with Him. There is a “withness,” between God and us. I love throughout the bible how often God says He wants to be with us or that He will be with us. He says things like, “I am with you.” (Matthew 28:30) “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.” (Psalm 23:4) Take notice of this and you may be surprised how often this phrase is repeated. He gives His very presence. When I meet with God, I am meeting with one who loves me. It is a relationship with the One, who created me, knows me and wants to be with me.
Meeting with Him is a response to an invitation to be in His love and to grow in His love. (If this is brand new to you, check out this post, Overflowing Love.) As I am with Him, I see that this nearness is good. As Psalm 73 says, “The nearness of God is my good.” When I sense He is with me and near me, I feel like anything is possible. I love this “withness!” To be with Him is the best place to be.
As I meet with Him, I begin to see Him more clearly. I glimpse what He is like. I can read the gospels and take notice of Jesus. I observe Him, His character, and how people respond to Him. As I see Jesus, I see the Father–His love and mercy filling the pages and ink of the bible. It really makes me want to glimpse more of Him. As I see Him, I am changed.
To be with Him, changes me over time. He is growing me into His likeness and this takes time. I use to think change would come in the form of a lightning bolt experience. Bam, I am changed–completely different with all new desires. Some things do change quickly, but most things take time through the God’s loving work. He may use struggles and circumstances to mature us. He also uses spiritual practices (time in the word, time with others, fasting, listening, etc.) to grow us. As I am with Him, I am reminded He is making me like Christ. Instead, it is easy to compare ourselves to others and what they do. We can listen to great speakers or distant teachers on a podcast and think we are to be like them. We may even think that if our life looked like their life or if we talked like them, we are becoming more mature. Others can be an example, but as I am with God, I see Christ–my example for growth. I want to be with Him, because I long to be more like Him.
Being with Him, transforms the mundane into something supernatural. Meeting with God doesn’t just stop with a time set aside, but it spills over to every ordinary area of our life. When I feel stuck and do not know what to say or do, I can quickly and silently pray and say Jesus’ name. As I am driving, I can turn off the music and give thanks. As I walk on campus or in the grocery store I can pray for the people I pass. This love relationship overflows as I go, enabling me to be a better lover to the people God places in my life. I want my little mundane experiences to be shaped for something bigger. Being with Him creates new possibilities I would never have dreamed!
Lastly, I meet with God because I am needy and desperate. I know myself, and how much I need direction and help. I also know that I don’t always love God or others very well at times. God is well aware of this and desires me to find myself in Him. I also know I need perspective, since my perspective warps slowly. I need a reminder of what is true and good, for true life is in Him.
The Habit of Meeting with God
“Meeting with God” is best cultivated through habits. God has made us physical beings, who are helped by physical practices. As we develop good habits, it encourages growth and change in us. This is one reason a regular time for “meeting with God” is vital. We do not plan this time out of obligation, or a need of accomplishment, but because we desire to be with God. Good habits also foster desire and affection. If I want to grow in closeness with my husband, I need quality and quantity time with him. In some ways, good habits are like training wheels, enabling us to grow stronger, more mature and take on new things. Habits also help move this “withness” to other parts of our life. It begins to spill over into a continual conversation with God, and not just in “an appointment” on our calendar. Good habits help move God and His love into to all areas of our life. That is what we want.
Find a regular time when you can “meet with God.” Start small in time if necessary. (When I began running again, I only started with running 5 minutes at first!). Find a time and place where you will not be distracted (turn off your phone). Establishing a routine is the best practice.
Decide ahead of time what you will do with this time. I use my time better when I have a plan. You can read the gospels and observe Jesus. A look at love in the book of 1John could be helpful.Maybe the time is also used for prayer needs. There are so many ways to spend this time.
Expect distractions to enter your mind. Hand them over to God and try to move on.
Start with exalting God as over all and supreme. Spend time giving thanks and in confession.
Make the time about knowing God and discovering what He is like. Often we approach this time from that standpoint of “what we can learn,” or “what can we get out of it. “ Spend more time observing God and His character. As you read the psalms, notice the attributes of God. As you read the New Testment, find what is revealed about the character of God or about Jesus.
The other day I walked down to a nearby creek to feed turtles with my youngest son, who is eight. As we walked, we talked and held hands. Along the way, we observed tiny flowers of various colors miraculously bursting out from the cracked, parched ground. We fed the turtles, who were in a frenzy to get the small morsels of stale bread. As I was with my son, I learned to just be present, ask questions, learn from him and be with him. I was so glad I had that time to be with him. It still makes me smile thinking about it. Afterwards, I think we both felt loved. Meeting with God, is a little like this–it is being with Him and enjoying Him along the way.