I love to travel. If my health and finances allowed I would seldom be home. There are so many places to see, people to meet and experiences to be had. I enjoy the convenience of flying but when time allows I prefer to drive, even if it means extra nights on the road. For me the joy is in the journey!
It is no wonder to me that life is often referred to as “the journey of life”. Each day is a road trip of this epic journey and like any road trip, stopping along the way to refuel is not optional if you want to reach your destination. When Sheila and I got in the car for our anniversary trip to Miami we left Athens with a full tank of gas, but we would never have gotten to Miami without stopping throughout the day and refueling. The journey of life is no different: it is essential that we refuel with God’s power throughout the day.
Psalm 55:17 “Evening, morning and noon, I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice.”
I don’t know about you but I don’t just eat one meal in the morning and expect it to last all day, I make time to eat lunch and dinner to refuel my body. But when it comes to my spiritual life one meal in the morning is all it takes! The only thing wrong with that last sentence is that it is completely bogus! To experience God’s presence and power all day one meal in the morning won’t cut it. We need to return to Him for refueling again and again throughout the day.
Monastic communities have practiced this for centuries. Years ago I went on a spiritual retreat to a Trappist Monastery. The monks there begin their day with prayer (at 5am!). At mid-morning they stop working and pray. At noon they stop working to pray and eat lunch. In mid-afternoon they stop working to pray. In the evening, as they finish the work-day, they pray again. Before they retire for the night, they pray again. Some monastic communities even make it a habit to get up in the middle of the night and pray! I am not advocating living in a monastery with its imposed order, what I am advocating is that we refuel by coming into God’s presence again and again through out the day.
Doing so helps to remind us that Christ is our constant companion throughout the day — while we’re out and about, while we’re at work, while we’re with our friends or at home alone. Robert Schuller uses a phrase that I like, “in your labor and in your leisure”. Jesus is available always; every moment of the day can be spent in His presence “in your labor and in your leisure”. By returning to Him again and again throughout the day we experience His presence and are refreshed and refueled with His power.
Sometimes we forget what a wonder it is to have a God who listens to us when we pray. Of course, the fact that God listens to us doesn’t make him our celestial Genie. He doesn’t do everything we ask Him to do. Things don’t always work out the way we want them to. Prayers are not always answered specifically on our terms. After all He is God and we are not. Even so, it is still a marvelous promise that when we talk to God He listens. Don’t underestimate the power and pleasure of this promise.
I once was campus minister with a ministry that directed campus ministries on several different campuses. Our board replaced our experienced executive director with one who had a strong administrative background but no campus ministry experience. To say he was a bad listener would be an insult to bad listeners! I remember feeling that he was so unsympathetic my ministry objectives that I wondered sometimes if he was capable of human emotion. (The jury is still out on that one.) Whenever I requested money for a retreat or campus outreach, I got the distinct impression that my words were falling on deaf ears.
Fortunately, he was an exception and not the rule! I left that ministry and had a more cooperative relationship with the board in my new campus ministry. They were interested in what I was trying to accomplish. They listened and were supportive. Though they didn’t always say “yes” to my requests, they thoughtfully considered each one. When they said “no”, they always suggested alternatives. In other words, when I talked to them, they listened. Even though I went through all the typical struggles of a campus minister, it helped to know that I had a sympathetic board that listened!
This is what makes this promise about our relationship with God so powerful. God listens because He cares. We can return to Him again and again through out the day, talking to Him about our problems, and we can be sure that He listens, not just the first time, but each time we return to Him. Talk to God, He listens and He cares!
I would love to hear how you “refuel” throughout the day.