It’s pretty easy to spend time with Jesus in the morning when you wake up to this view. At least that’s what I found last week when I got to spend a few days in East Tennessee speaking at a student summer camp. I could hardly wait to wake up in the morning, grab a big cup of coffee, sit in a rocking chair on the front porch, take in the majesty of God’s creation, read His Word and spend time with Him in prayer. To make it even easier, the cabin I was staying in had no phone line, no internet and no cell signal and my nearest neighbor was miles away. Just to complete the picture, Laura and the kids were at her parents, so there were no little voices asking me for juice or to telling me they had to go potty.
So, I would sit there in silence and solitude. Read a little. Pray a little. Talk to myself. Talk to God. Reflect. It was all kind of surreal…kind of like I found my own Walden Pond, in a really good way!
And somewhere along the way, I found myself thinking, “this is the way life should be.” That’s an unsettling thing for a guy living in an apartment in the city with a family of five to be thinking. But, I suspect all of us city dwellers think similar things when we get out of town for a bit, right? If we had different jobs, more space, less traffic, and simpler lives we would have better relationships with Jesus. In short, if we lived elsewhere, we’d be healthier.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s something really good about getting out of our routines. My friend Mark Batterson says it so clearly, “change of pace + change of place = change of perspective” He’s totally right and I’m all for vacations, retreats trips out of town and speaking at any church retreat with a good view!
But blaming our spiritual apathy on our surroundings is a cop out. That was a point the Lord drilled home one morning last week with a simple question in my spirit, “John, which are you enjoying more, me or the view?” Ouch. Was I reveling in Jesus or in a novel experience?
When it comes to spending time with God, we all have a tendency to put too much hope in the experience and too little hope in experiencing God. We spend so much time getting ourselves comfortable and creating an experience that will look amazing on Instagram and so little time enjoying Jesus. Any time we lose sight of the fact that Jesus is the best part of any experience, we’re headed for trouble.
What mattered last week wasn’t the view. What mattered is that God was there. He wanted to speak. I wanted to hear. And that’s transportable. That’s available in DC. That’s available everywhere. To every one of us. Today. Tomorrow. And the next morning.
Don’t settle for an experience when God invites us to experience Himself!