Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Smoking Cigarettes and Time With God

Suggested Reading: Psalm 84

When I was young and I first started getting serious about my walk with God, I decided that I needed to engage in a daily scripture reading plan. At first, it was something of a chore. I would pull out my Bible and read some from the Psalms to get my brain flowing and then a passage from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. I’m not sure why, but somewhere along the way, I decided that I should read five psalms and then three chapters from my Old and New Testament selections.  Often, I would sit down and begin reading and feel very little desire to stay in God's presence. But as I forced myself to read and as I searched for God within with pages of His Word, I discovered that the longer I read and entered his presence, the more I wanted the be there and the harder it was to stop reading.

That experience shed an interesting light on this passage from the Psalms: Better a day in Your courts than a thousand anywhere else. I would rather be at the door of the house of my God than to live in the tents of wicked people (Psalm 84:10, HCSB). In my experience, I have rarely emotionally felt like that verse was true before I entered God’s presence, but I have rarely felt like it was not true after I entered God’s presence. Eventually, I came to understand that experiencing joy in God’s presence is a choice we have to make.

There is something inside us (I’ll hazard a guess and call it our “sinful nature”) that tries to make us forget what God’s presence is really like, that tries to convince us that there is nothing extraordinary that happens as we spend time in His Word and in pouring ourselves out and being filled up by Him in prayer.  There are so many other things that are more entertaining and more instantly gratifying than spending time with God, but there is nothing more truly fulfilling and satisfying than basking in God’s presence. God’s presence does not stroke our ego or make us feel all warm and fuzzy (at least not all the time), but it does stretch us and shape us more and more into the people we were created to be in the first place.

Sometimes, I think, we want God’s presence to be addicting like so many of our vices are. Spending time with God would be so much easier if we were inexplicably drawn to God like a smoker to a cigarette or like an alcoholic to a bottle. But addictions put us into bondage. God’s presence sets us free and every day we are free to choose to enter God’s presence again. Addictions bring us to the place where we need more and more to get the same fix. Spending time in God’s presence works in exactly the opposite fashion, creating a larger and larger cumulative effect the longer we experience it.

Will you regularly and faithfully choose to enter God’s presence and find the fulfillment you’ve been yearning for? Or will you settle for being addicted, gratified, and entertained? 

Trusting Jesus to Help You Trust

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