Five Minutes a Day

I was listening to the radio while driving the other day when the announcer talked about a new Bible for "busy moms" claiming that with all the multitasking moms do, this Bible would help them take five minutes for God. Five minutes? That is all God gets out of a day? In fraction form, that is 1/288 of our day that will be devoted to God and that is a good thing? What about the other 287/288 of our day? Are those not for God?

Admittedly, I have long since gotten out of the practice of a regular sit down time of Bible reading and prayer, a value instilled into me by the church I grew up in. However, I talk to God in the car, at work, I sing songs to him, we sing songs together (God is really good at duets), and I read with him in mind. At night, I always kneel by my bed and pray before climbing under the covers. I just can't imagine my life without God walking through it with me and being in relationship with him. I would give the excuse for all of us that the regular sit down devotional time is a launching point for a deeper living spirituality and I am sure that is true for many. However, I am also sure that many people give their "five minutes" on Sunday, or an occasional nod to Jesus during the week and don't talk to God for the other 287/288 of their day. How much they miss. God doesn't want our five minutes, he wants all 1,440. No matter what we are engaged in, we can commune with him. Whether it is when we cook, when we clean, when we are helping others with a problem, or even when we sleep, we can do those things in acknowledgement of him. We can even fall asleep in his arms, even that is a prayer.

God is not here to be our religion. God is not here to be our salvation plan. He doesn't want us to go around telling people how they can escape the punishment of sin and go to Heaven instead of Hell. He doesn't want us spreading the word on how to avoid judgement. Judgement and escaping punishment is not what God is about. God is not about having it right, having it together. He is not up there keeping a tally of our deeds. And I will even say this, God is not up there with a gigantic pink divine eraser erasing our mistakes as if they were never there when we recite the "salvation prayer". If he did, how would they help us grow?

When we come to God, which we actually do over and over again throughout our lives, we think the salvation prayer solves "our sin problem". But for God, there is no sin problem, at least how it is usually defined. The problem of sin is not about what we do or don't do, it is about who we are disconnected from when we do it. Sin is acting outside of the love of God, the love of the earth, the love of each other, and the love of ourselves. Repenting is turning back to God and living out of his love. Like the prodigal son parable Jesus tells in the gospel of Luke, God is not worried about how dirty we are or where we have been. He is just beside himself with joy when we come home. And like the father in that story, God does not put a beautiful robe on our bodies and a ring on our finger to make us presentable before him for where he wants us to be. He puts those things on us to tell us who we already are and where we already belong.

Telling people they are going to Hell and that they need to repent so they can go to Heaven is completely missing the point. God is not a harsh judge. God is a loving father. Sin is not what the story is about. Love is the main theme. I've heard the speakers who talk about what rotten people we are and how God is going to send us to hell if we don't repent of our evil deeds. It is important to choose to stop behaving in such destructive ways, but really, is this the way to tell about love? By slamming them with what bad people we are and how God can't stand to be around us? No wonder so many of God's children have terrifying images of a father/mother God they are scared of. What would it look like instead to tell ourselves and each other how loved we are exactly as we are, how God longs, aches to be with us.

What would it look like to tell people about God's strength, joy, and gentleness, and compassion? What would it look like to tell them we were made and born to be in relationship with God, that it is intrinsic to who we are? Being in relationship with God doesn't fix our problems and it doesn't make us rich. We will still struggle but when we know the love of God, we know who to struggle with. We know who to talk to and who will fight our battles. There is still the storm, but there is peace in the midst of it. There are still the waves, but we've been handed a life jacket.

I still get angry with God. He is okay with that. I am honest, or try to be, about where I am at, and he sits down beside me and we start dealing with it. It is okay to be angry at God. He welcomes us to express those thoughts. God wants our presence no matter what we are in the midst of, no matter how filthy we are. God does not turn away from sin. It isn't something his holiness makes him turn away from. Jesus came and swam in sin, became covered in sin so he could get to us. It doesn't scare him. That is why we can come to God just as we are, warts and all, flaws and all. He loves every bit of us. The emphasis on salvation is turning to God, knowing he is there to listen and to speak and that are listening and speaking to him. That is what it's all about.

I do not feel shame with God, I know who I am: his beloved. I know God loves me and that he's there wherever I go, ready to talk or just sit in silence. He is playful and fun, he is serious, sometimes somber, and he teaches me how to live out that love I feel all around me radiating from who he is. God is the core of our lives. Everything comes from him. It is a truth beyond time yet a true we live out within time. And this isn't for just five minutes a day, it's for all 1,440.

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Walking the Sea: Five Minutes a Day

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Five Minutes a Day

I was listening to the radio while driving the other day when the announcer talked about a new Bible for "busy moms" claiming that with all the multitasking moms do, this Bible would help them take five minutes for God. Five minutes? That is all God gets out of a day? In fraction form, that is 1/288 of our day that will be devoted to God and that is a good thing? What about the other 287/288 of our day? Are those not for God?

Admittedly, I have long since gotten out of the practice of a regular sit down time of Bible reading and prayer, a value instilled into me by the church I grew up in. However, I talk to God in the car, at work, I sing songs to him, we sing songs together (God is really good at duets), and I read with him in mind. At night, I always kneel by my bed and pray before climbing under the covers. I just can't imagine my life without God walking through it with me and being in relationship with him. I would give the excuse for all of us that the regular sit down devotional time is a launching point for a deeper living spirituality and I am sure that is true for many. However, I am also sure that many people give their "five minutes" on Sunday, or an occasional nod to Jesus during the week and don't talk to God for the other 287/288 of their day. How much they miss. God doesn't want our five minutes, he wants all 1,440. No matter what we are engaged in, we can commune with him. Whether it is when we cook, when we clean, when we are helping others with a problem, or even when we sleep, we can do those things in acknowledgement of him. We can even fall asleep in his arms, even that is a prayer.

God is not here to be our religion. God is not here to be our salvation plan. He doesn't want us to go around telling people how they can escape the punishment of sin and go to Heaven instead of Hell. He doesn't want us spreading the word on how to avoid judgement. Judgement and escaping punishment is not what God is about. God is not about having it right, having it together. He is not up there keeping a tally of our deeds. And I will even say this, God is not up there with a gigantic pink divine eraser erasing our mistakes as if they were never there when we recite the "salvation prayer". If he did, how would they help us grow?

When we come to God, which we actually do over and over again throughout our lives, we think the salvation prayer solves "our sin problem". But for God, there is no sin problem, at least how it is usually defined. The problem of sin is not about what we do or don't do, it is about who we are disconnected from when we do it. Sin is acting outside of the love of God, the love of the earth, the love of each other, and the love of ourselves. Repenting is turning back to God and living out of his love. Like the prodigal son parable Jesus tells in the gospel of Luke, God is not worried about how dirty we are or where we have been. He is just beside himself with joy when we come home. And like the father in that story, God does not put a beautiful robe on our bodies and a ring on our finger to make us presentable before him for where he wants us to be. He puts those things on us to tell us who we already are and where we already belong.

Telling people they are going to Hell and that they need to repent so they can go to Heaven is completely missing the point. God is not a harsh judge. God is a loving father. Sin is not what the story is about. Love is the main theme. I've heard the speakers who talk about what rotten people we are and how God is going to send us to hell if we don't repent of our evil deeds. It is important to choose to stop behaving in such destructive ways, but really, is this the way to tell about love? By slamming them with what bad people we are and how God can't stand to be around us? No wonder so many of God's children have terrifying images of a father/mother God they are scared of. What would it look like instead to tell ourselves and each other how loved we are exactly as we are, how God longs, aches to be with us.

What would it look like to tell people about God's strength, joy, and gentleness, and compassion? What would it look like to tell them we were made and born to be in relationship with God, that it is intrinsic to who we are? Being in relationship with God doesn't fix our problems and it doesn't make us rich. We will still struggle but when we know the love of God, we know who to struggle with. We know who to talk to and who will fight our battles. There is still the storm, but there is peace in the midst of it. There are still the waves, but we've been handed a life jacket.

I still get angry with God. He is okay with that. I am honest, or try to be, about where I am at, and he sits down beside me and we start dealing with it. It is okay to be angry at God. He welcomes us to express those thoughts. God wants our presence no matter what we are in the midst of, no matter how filthy we are. God does not turn away from sin. It isn't something his holiness makes him turn away from. Jesus came and swam in sin, became covered in sin so he could get to us. It doesn't scare him. That is why we can come to God just as we are, warts and all, flaws and all. He loves every bit of us. The emphasis on salvation is turning to God, knowing he is there to listen and to speak and that are listening and speaking to him. That is what it's all about.

I do not feel shame with God, I know who I am: his beloved. I know God loves me and that he's there wherever I go, ready to talk or just sit in silence. He is playful and fun, he is serious, sometimes somber, and he teaches me how to live out that love I feel all around me radiating from who he is. God is the core of our lives. Everything comes from him. It is a truth beyond time yet a true we live out within time. And this isn't for just five minutes a day, it's for all 1,440.

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2 Comments:

At March 5, 2010 at 5:11 PM , Blogger Hopeful Harvest Ministries said...

I like your post :) It makes me smile!

 
At September 25, 2010 at 7:48 PM , Anonymous Tim Magee said...

I agree with what you say, in particular the idea that God does not act according to arbitrary or cruel criteria. I agree that popularly believed formulas of salvation are likely to be the results of misunderstanding.
I am capable however of being in "violent agreement" with other people. This sort of thing is not too unusual, which means I at times share some of the more batty parts of the human condition.

 

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