Taking God OFF of my To-Do List

I stared at the altar in the front of the church, once again making a mental note of the letters JHS. I'd seen these letters several times over the past year, either at Mass or in the Adoration Chapel, and each time I'd wondered about their meaning. I always planned to look them up at a later time, but kept forgetting, remembering only when I saw them again.

Fast forward to several weeks ago when I placed “Adoration Chapel” on my famous To-Do list. I know I’ve told you about this To-Do list--the one that seems to run my day. My thoughts. Even my life, if I’m not careful. It is somehow both a source of stress as I watch it grow and of happiness as I cross things off. Anybody else ever add something to their list after they’ve completed it, just so they can scratch it off?? 

Anyway, I'd placed “Adoration Chapel” on my list because it seemed like the perfect opportunity to review the chapter I needed to read for that night's Bible Study meeting. I parked and rushed to the door, aware I had only 30 minutes before I'd need to leave. I was anticipating the peaceful atmosphere of the chapel and the opportunity to sit quietly without distraction. So imagine my surprise (you can interpret that as irritation) when I opened the chapel door only to be greeted by twelve third graders. I should clarify: This is NOT a large chapel. And these twelve third graders did not exude a quiet, peaceful, distraction-free aura.

Many not-so-lovely thoughts entered my brain: GOD!? REALLY?? Are You serious? I can only stay a short while! Do I really have to share my time with these children?

I immediately wanted to leave. In fact, I started to walk out, certain I would “accomplish more” in the quiet of my living room than in the chapel with a bunch of children. But before I could exit, a neighbor--who happened to be with the school children--grabbed my arm and practically led me to a seat. “Stay! We’ll only be here a short time," she said with a big smile.

So I sat. With all of the children.
There was talking. Child whispering, which somehow seems louder than a regular voice.
I didn’t open my Bible Study book, certain I would never be able to concentrate.
I tried to stop my mind from running through my To-Do list.
I internally battled my sense that this was a waste of my time.

Suddenly, one of the children stood up. He raised his hand high and blurted out a question that stopped every thought running through my head: “What does that JHS mean?”

I froze. Did he just ask the exact question that’s been on my mind for months? As a teacher explained that the letters come from the Greek word for 'Jesus,' I began to sense God’s voice. It was as if I could see Him, looking down at me, gently shaking His head while smiling with love:

Jen, now that I have your attention… 
You’re not here just for you. I invited you here to be with Me. 
You’re not here on your time. Because your time is really My time.
You like the peaceful atmosphere in this room. But I want to fill you with My peace.
You came to escape distraction. But by bringing a list of things to accomplish, you’re creating the distraction. 
You wouldn’t schedule coffee with a friend, only to surf your phone the entire time. But is that very different from reading books in front of Me?  
You wouldn’t go to dinner with your husband, only to have a one-sided conversation, talking without ever taking time to listen to his reply. But is that very different from bringing me a list of concerns, wants, and needs without ever listening for my voice? 
You like it here because it’s quiet. Don’t fill the quiet with your own noise. With your own agenda. 
Don't fill the quiet with yourself.

So. Here we are.  I’ve received a fresh reminder from God that He does not want to be on my To-Do list. Whether I'm going to mass, sitting in Adoration, reading a devotional, or reading a spiritual book, God doesn’t want me to perform these things in front of Him so I can scratch them off my list. He wants to spend time with me. He wants me to spend time with Him. He wants to be in a relationship with me. 

Today starts a New Year. And although I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions, I’ve decided to do things differently this year. You’re welcome to join me if interested…

As you may recall from a previous post, for most of my life I never opened the Bible. Honestly I somehow felt “unqualified” to read it, certain I probably wouldn’t understand it. My comfort with reading the Bible has increased some over the last couple years, but this year, I’d like to do more. I’m convinced that reading a full book of the Bible straight through--instead of hearing or reading only small pieces of Scripture at a time--will allow me to know God better.

I also know my schedule is super busy. So whatever I do must be manageable within my time constraints. And although I don't want to simply place “Read Bible” on my To Do list, I still want to be held accountable as I read His Word.

Sooooo… I’ve decided to start a (private) Bible Reading Facebook Group. We’ll kick off this Sunday 1/5/20 with the Gospel of Mark.

Each Sunday I’ll post a link to a short Scripture passage. Read the passage any time during that week. While reading, make notes of words, verses, or messages that “speak” to you. Reflect on how the story applies to your life. You can even use your imagination to picture yourself in the passage. If you’re inclined, share with the group anything God reveals to you.  We can learn from each other and get to know Jesus better as we see the beautiful way God can speak to each of us differently through the same passage.

The FB group will be private, so you must join (click here) to see anything that’s posted. Everyone is welcome, whether you’ve read the Bible many times and are looking for accountability … or whether you’ve never opened the Bible and feel “unqualified” to read it.

I have no formal Theology training and make no promises to teach anyone anything! But, as you can see, I’m always happy to share what He reveals to me.

I genuinely think God's waiting for us all to encounter Him in His Word. So if you’re at all intrigued, or if reading the Bible is somewhere on your “To-Do Before I Die” list ... maybe He’s calling you to open it now. 

To quote Rob Bell:
 “Whether we are reading the Bible for the first time or standing in a field in Israel next to a historian and an archaeologist and a scholar, the Bible meets us where we are. That is what truth does.”

Hoping you all have a Blessed New Year!  
And, as always, hoping God breathes life into these words.


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