God often has to put himself on repeat when He speaks to me. I seem to need to hear a message more than once before I start to pay attention… If I’m being honest, it’s more like 15 times.
Over the past few months, God has been showing me these words: “God with us”. I see them in the Bible. I hear them as lyrics in songs, in sermons and podcasts, and of course I heard them lots at Christmas! Over and over again I am hearing the same words from God. He is telling me in a variety of ways that He is with me.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NLT
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 ESV
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us’.” Matthew 1:23 NLT
He is telling me “I am with you” but at the same time He is asking me a question: “Are you with me?”
Am I really “with God”? Do I spend time with Him? Is it good, undistracted time? Am I truly seeking to grow in my relationship with Him? Do I spend as much time and effort on my relationship with God as I do the most important people in my life?
God is reminding me that we have a two way relationship. We both must be present and active in the relationship for it to grow. We both must speak and listen. We both must spend time with each other, and He’s doing His part.
With Jesus as my Saviour, God is with me always. His Holy Spirit dwells in me. My “forever friend” as we teach our kids. He isn’t going anywhere. He is faithful and eternal. But how present have I been? What efforts am I making?
This month my church is encouraging us to fast or abstain from something good to make time for something better. I have known for a long time that I have an addiction (sad, but literal) to Facebook. I decided to give it up so I could be intentional about spending more time with Jesus. I have been successful for 1 week! (Gotta celebrate the victories!) No Facebook and I have been reading my Bible and a devotional on fasting. It’s been good, but I still have a long way to go.
I have realized this week that my addiction goes further. Facebook just became the primary mechanism by which I waste time. Even though I have not spent a minute on Facebook in the last 8 days, I am still wasting time on my phone. Some of it has been good time. I’ve been texting with friends a bit more. Since I’m not on Facebook, I actually have to ask them what they’re up to!
To fill the Facebook void I meant to be filling with God, I’ve started reading the news online. Not something I ever did before. Much of what I’m reading has no relevance or usefulness to me. It’s just another way to waste mindless time.
My goal for the next 2 weeks has shifted to restricting the use of my phone altogether. I’m OK with texting friends, that’s good connection, but I need to stop wasting time and use it to read God’s word and spend time with Him. Not because it’s what I’m ‘supposed’ to do, but because it’s what I was created to do. I have books to finish and a family to spend time with, but most importantly I am going to be intentional about being with God as He has been with me.
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 NIV
This is God’s current message to me, and I know He has something to say to all of us today. For you, it could be a similar message or something very different. Whatever it is, I pray you hear from Him.
There’s something about this song by All Sons and Daughters, God With Us, that allows me to quiet my heart and mind and ask God, “What do you have for me today?” Ask Him. He will show you.