Taking God OFF of my To-Do List
Several times this year I’ve noticed the letters JHS in church. I’ve seen them on the main alter at mass and in the Adoration chapel. Each time I’ve wondered about their meaning, but it was never in a setting that was appropriate for me to whip out my phone to ask Siri. Of course, I never remembered to look it up afterwards. So each time I entered mass or the chapel I would again see the letters and wonder about their meaning…
Fast forward to just a few 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 often 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 happiness (as I cross things off after completing them.) (Anybody else ever add something to the list AFTER they’ve completed it, just so they can scratch it off?? Yeah, that’s me. I have a problem... Surely I’m not the only one??!!)
Anyway… I squeezed “Adoration Chapel” on to my list. (Along with 972 other things that I hoped to accomplish in my few free hours before carpool pickup.) You see, I had my small group bible study that night and needed to flip through the chapter of our book one more time so I could remember what we’d be discussing. I parked and rushed to the door, knowing I had, at most, 30 minutes to spend there. I was looking forward to the peaceful atmosphere of the chapel. An opportunity for me to sit quietly without worldly distraction. So imagine my surprise (you can interpret that as irritation) as I opened the door to the chapel ….. ONLY TO BE GREETED BY TWELVE THIRD GRADERS. Y’all this chapel is not large. And these 12 third graders were NOT exuding a quiet, peaceful, distraction-free aura!
Not-so-lovely thoughts entered my brain…
GOD!!!??? REALLY???!!! Are You serious?? I only have a short time to be here! Do I really have to share my limited Adoration Chapel time with these children?
I immediately wanted to leave. In fact, I turned to walk out, knowing I would “accomplish more” in the quiet of my living room than I would 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.”
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. No way I could concentrate in that setting.
I tried to stop my mind from running through my To-Do List.
I internally battled with a sense that this was a waste of time…
And then … one of the children stood up abruptly, shooting his hand up into the air to ask a question. “What does that JHS mean?”
My head shot up. 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 heard God’s voice whisper into my heart.
It was as if He was gently shaking his head while smiling down at me with love…
Jen. Now that I have your attention…
You’re not here for you. You’re here for ME.
You’re not here on your time. Because your time is really MY TIME.
You say you like the peaceful atmosphere here. But I want to give you more than an atmosphere of peace. I WANT YOUR WHOLE BEING TO BE FILLED WITH MY PEACE.
You say you came here to escape worldly distraction. But I INVITED YOU HERE TO BE WITH ME. And by bringing in a list of things to accomplish while sitting in the chapel, you’ve actually brought the distraction.
You wouldn’t schedule a coffee date with a friend, only to surf your phone the entire time. But isn’t this what you’re doing when you pull out books to read in front of me?
You wouldn’t go to dinner with your husband, only to have a one-sided “conversation” where you talk and talk without ever taking time to listen to his reply. But isn’t this what you’re doing when you bring me a list of concerns, wants and needs but never listen for my voice? Never stop to get to know me better?
You say 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 it’s by going to mass, sitting in Adoration Chapel, reading a devotional, or reading a book for my Bible Study … He doesn’t want me to simply perform these things in front of Him so I can then scratch them off my master 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. And He wants me to KNOW Him.
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 you’re 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, convinced I wouldn’t really 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 full books of the Bible straight through - compared to hearing or reading only small pieces of scripture at a time - will offer more, will allow me to better know the person of Jesus, and will allow me to better know God.
I also know that my schedule is super busy. So whatever I do has to be manageable within my time constraints. And clearly, I must avoid placing “Read Bible” on my To Do List! But 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, likely one chapter. Read the passage any time during that week, whenever it’s convenient. (I recommend a quiet place, early in the AM … with coffee LOL!) 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 scripture passage. If you’re inclined, you can then share with the group what 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 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 also 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.
And today, I think He’s just inviting us 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. And if you don’t own one and don’t want to spend the money, don’t let that stop you. There are lots of free Bible apps available for your phone!
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.