Several weeks ago my wife alerted me to a conversation she had with our oldest son. He had expressed a measure of frustration at his sinfulness and inability to do God’s will. As a side note, he chose to follow Jesus in the spring of 2010. She was unsure on how to proceed so we both chose an opportune time to sit down with him.
After I asked him how things were going he began to get emotional with his sin struggles. He had lashed out at his brothers, was impatient, lied, and basically wasn’t acting like a disciple. He also added that he didn’t feel very close to God. I asked him the same question I ask myself whenever the laments pile up: are you in the Word, are you in prayer? His response astounded me. He said he simply doesn’t have time. I thought I was listening to an adult. This kid is only 7 years old! What do you mean, you don’t have time? We wanted to hear more.
We then began to explore the reasons behind this conspicuous habit. I had to stop myself from enjoying a hearty laugh. There were problems with supper time, there were problems with having to homework, there were problems with having to go to bed too early/having to get up at an inconvenient time. The list went on and on. My wife and I were amused to find ourselves as the primary reason for our son not reading his Bible and spending time with the Lord. I wended my way through his response and tried to show him that he and he alone is responsible for these things. Others can’t schedule it for him or give him the incentive to pursue the Lord. This is a choice we must make every day. We want to know him, talk with him, and hear from him but this can’t happen if we fill our days with our own business.
When we finished talking with him we encouraged him and prayed with him. Naturally there are other things we are doing to facilitate more of this. I wondered how he got his hands on the adult playbook. The arguments for neglecting time with the Lord are used by adults. The subtlety with which my wife and I were charged was almost beyond comprehension. Guilt was on circumstances but not on the individual.
The notion that spending time with the Lord in prayer and the Word can easily be met with suspicion. Isn’t that legalism? Where does it say in the Bible that one has to do that every day? There are Scriptures that intimate that very clearly. However, I’m not sure this is the right track. Questions like these may well mask a fundamental heart condition. Someone who is walking with the Lord, enjoying him does not have to be told these things, he knows them by experience. When our hearts are soft before the Lord we gladly repent of pushing him aside and run to his Word.
I find with myself that my struggles are magnified when there is a lack of steady diet in the Word and prayer. Without fail, when these things are vibrant and healthy so is my outlook on life. The Lord is my portion and my soul is satisfied in him. Who have I in heaven but you? My flesh and my heart fail but God is my strength. These Scriptures point us to the overwhelming satisfaction we have in God. When we feed on these truths day after day we shelter ourselves from without. The delight of fellowship with God, God himself, causes us to not take so seriously the evils of the day. Apart from the steady diet of God’s Word, true discipleship cannot take place.