My journey with God has had its ups and downs. Recently, I found myself in a bit of a slump. I noticed that while my times of prayer hadn't decreased, the content had changed over time. I was still spending time in thanksgiving, confession, and intercession for those around me, but my times in pure adoration had started to slip away. I felt like God was calling me back to time with him, adoring him. Back to spending time remembering and declaring who His is and who I am in light of that.
Henry Nouwen said that, “Perhaps we must continually remind ourselves that the first commandment requiring us to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind is indeed the first. I wonder if we really believe this. It seems that in fact we live as if we should give as much of our heart, soul, and mind as possible to our fellow human beings, while trying hard not to forget God.”
In being honest before God, and with you, I don't often place God first in my life. I have found it true for myself that “the greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Jesus” (Oswald Chambers). Doing things for Jesus does not result in a depth of relationship with Him. Sometimes, I need to reassess where my time, money and energy is spent and if I am truly devoting myself to Him.
I have a strong desire to desire God. I want my hunger for Him to increase. So I need to take a few steps back and start with thinking of him and reminding myself of who He is and His love for me.
As Ken Russell mentioned just this past Sunday, intimacy can grow when we spend time lingering in God's presence, which is something we often find difficult to do in a culture that values efficiency and immediate gratification.
I have started to be more intentional about setting aside time with God to focus on him and to be in his presence. Listening to songs that declare who God is, has been helpful in reminding me of His love so that I will grow in my love for Him. Over the last few weeks, I have noticed that my heart is being reignited with a desire for God and a joy in declaring who He is.
It is interesting that this increased desire to adore God falls within the upcoming season of Advent. A season when we anticipate the celebration of Jesus' birth. A season when we remind ourselves about the story of Christmas. A story where the focus is on Jesus and Him alone. He was in the spotlight. He was the one they came to adore.
In thinking about this, I felt like God was challenging me and inviting me to consider what this Advent season would look like for me, if that was my sole desire. To honour and adore Him. To remind myself of who God is and His love for me and then respond and love Him back from the love He has given to me. My heart leapt at this invitation and was filled with an incredible sense of peace.
December is known to be a busy and stressful month for many people. This is the time of year when the peace and joy that we have in our hearts can be more starkly contrasted to the materialism and anxiety that are both culturally accepted and expected.
What if I intentionally do less for God so that I have more time to linger with Him?
What if the way I spend Advent is so soaked in adoration and clearly different from the expected chaos and commercialized happiness that others start asking questions about their focus too?
What if I choose to have more margin in my life this month so that I can live out the message that the Prince of Peace brings?
People often label it as “the season of giving” or “the season of spending time with family and friends”. While these things are good, they are not the cornerstone of Christmas itself. This is the season of awe and wonder at God's infinite love.
I have been wrestling with this a lot lately, and was thinking about how all of these good and moral things have become the focus of this holy-day season. In a way, these good things can actually end up distracting us from God, from the real focus. I mean, if the crowds were spending Christmas pouring their time and money and energy into doing things that are morally wrong, we would most likely not be swayed in our devotion to God. But when it is the things that are good in and of themselves that distract us, it can be harder to notice what our motivation is or what we are truly giving our hearts to.
Advent begins this Sunday. I want to encourage you to think and pray about how you will spend these next few weeks. What would it look like for you to linger with God throughout this Advent season? What would it look like to spend the next month focusing on being with God rather than doing things for Him? What is the response of your heart in considering those questions?
God, we are in awe of You. You breathe and there is life. You speak and the storm is stilled. Thank You that You desire us. Thank You that You came to us. Thank You that You invite us to come to You. Our human minds and hearts will never be able to fully comprehend or encapsulate Your unmeasurable love. May You increase our desire for You and may we behold You and Your glory. May our souls discover that You and You alone are enough and may we find rest and peace as we linger in Your presence, this Christmas season and always.
Let us adore Him.
Loralie has been a part of the Redemption Church family for 12 years. She shares life in a community house in East Van where she co-leads an Oikos. Hospitality, community living and life-long learning are topics that excite her heart.