Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. James 4:8 (NLT)
Southerners are loyal. They are loyal to their church, and they are loyal to their football team. One of the first questions I was asked when I moved to the Upstate was whether I was a Clemson fan (pronounced Klemp-son – there’s no “z” sportscasters) or a USC fan (which has nothing to do with Trojans or Southern California). I have never entered that fray. I am a Jayhawk. Born in Lawrence, Kansas, how could I be anything else?
Southerners delight in decorating their cars and themselves in homage to their team. They name their children “Dabo” or “Steve” based on their loyalties. There are even a few who come to church dressed entirely in black when their team loses.
While there are a few Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia Tech fans thrown in, there is one group who incurs the wrath of most South Carolinians: those with divided loyalties. Now, there are some households that are unequally yoked: a Clemson fan married a USC fan. We understand that falling in love is a result of a miracle and temporary insanity. But, there are some who have the audacity to have actually attended both schools. This is an abomination.
The Bible tells us that God wants to draw near to us and be close to us. But, this intimacy with God is not possible if we have divided loyalties. Just like someone can’t graduate from Clemson and root for USC (or vice versa), we can’t devote ourselves to God and then live as if He doesn’t even exist.
Now, I’m not advocating that we reject the world, sell all of our possessions, and move to a mountain top monastery to live our lives as some sort of spiritual survivalists. We are to be in the world, but not of the world. The problem is that the longer we’re in the world, the more we find ourselves, even as believers, becoming more “of the world” than we care to admit.
The answer is simple, but difficult. The solution is to slow down throughout our day and connect with God. The difficulty is that we rarely slow down or we think that a connection with God needs to follow some grandiose ritual. My solution is that I have scheduled God on my calendar for two appointments per day: 8 am and 3 pm. If you want to see me then, well, I’m indefinitely booked at those times. My appointment with God is about 10 minutes long. I start out with two minutes of silence. Since I’m a Type A personality, one eye is on God. The other is on the clock. Then, I read two or three Psalms. I end with another two minutes of silence.
When I am faithful to my appointments with God, I have better perspective on my life. Those first two minutes of silence remind me that God doesn’t really need me to do anything, to think about anything, to solve anything…without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). The best part is knowing that God looks forward to these appointments more than I do.
How do you draw near to God daily? Where can you make time for even five minutes with God? In your car on the way to work? In the bathroom while you’re getting ready? Maybe you can’t set a regular schedule. Maybe you’d rather just stay in a constant conversation with God throughout the day. “God, did you see what that driver just did?” “God, what am I going to do with these children?” “God, how should I respond to that jerk in my office?”
God is looking forward to your time with Him.