If we want our lives to count for God, we must get to know Him. In His high priestly prayer, Jesus voiced this, His heart’s desire, “that they might know Thee, the only true God” (John 17:3). To know God, we must spend time with Him.
We see this clearly in the apostles’ calling. Before the twelve preached and ministered healing and deliverance in Jesus’ name, and before they called others to come unto Him, they had to spend time with their divine Master. Extended private fellowship with Jesus was the first and most vital phase of their calling. Note Mark’s words: “And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him” (Mark 3:14).
Truly, there would have been no going forth to work the works of Jesus if the apostles had refused to spend time with Him. Though Jesus called them “that He might send them forth to preach, and to have authority to heal sicknesses, and to cast out demons” (3:14,15), they neither received power nor began preaching on the day Jesus appointed them. In fact, instead of going out, they went in. That is, they “went into an house” (3:19), where they began discharging their sacred duty to spend quality time with Jesus—pondering His Word, asking Him questions, soaking in His Spirit, observing His utter dependence on His Father, learning His ways, wondering at His power, and marveling at His compassion.
The apostles’ active public ministry—the second and more visible phase of their calling—did not begin until sometime later. Again, note Mark’s words: “And He called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two, and gave them power over unclean spirits” (Mark 6:7). So we see that the apostles first formed the habit of spending time with Jesus; then, as that time in His presence began transforming them, they began to go forth as His agents, living members of His body, true expressions of His very purpose, message, grace and power. And He was glorified.
We are called to follow the apostles’ example. To do so, we also must learn to “be with Him” (Mark 3:14). This, our sacred duty, demands our time. Hence, we must take—and at times make—time for Him. And we must do it now. Life is extremely short, and Jesus’ return is very near; there is simply no time to waste. That is, if we seriously hope to glorify God.
In his insightful book, The Root of the Righteous, A.W. Tozer writes: “Probably the most widespread and persistent problem to be found among Christians is the problem of retarded spiritual progress. Why, after years of Christian profession, do so many persons find themselves no farther along than when they first believed?”
Tozer concludes that the probable cause is “failure to give time to the cultivation of the knowledge of God.” Then he adds: “Progress in the Christian life is exactly equal to the growing knowledge we gain of the Triune God in personal experience … we may as well accept it: there is no shortcut to sanctity.”
Tozer’s observation is a word in season. In this instant age, we tend to look for shorter, easier ways of doing everything. But there is no way to obtain instant spiritual reality. We cannot press a key, or click on a computer button and have God suddenly create in us a wonderful, well-rounded knowledge of Himself. Abraham could not. It took years of seeking, trusting, waiting and obeying before he fully knew the God who called him. And it was the same with Joseph, Moses, and David. Even Jesus did not mature in a moment.
Over a thirty-year period, Jesus spent many long hours in private communion with His heavenly Father. Then He went forth “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Then He outwitted the tempter time and again and accepted rejection with amazing grace. Then He heard the voice from above, when others only heard thunder. Then He spoke truths that humbled the proud and encouraged the oppressed. Then He walked calmly on stormy waters. Then He perceived His Father’s hand in every circumstance and quietly suffered the cruelest injustice rather than fail to do His Father’s will.
All this glory sprang from one spiritual well—the time Jesus spent alone with His heavenly Father. Morning by morning Jesus rose early to pray and meditate upon Scripture. Often He withdrew Himself from the multitudes, and from the twelve, to strengthen His soul in the presence of His Father.
Isn’t it unreasonable to take time for everything and everyone but God and yet expect to know God so closely that we possess the faith of Abraham, the wis-dom of Joseph, the devotion of David, the insight of Daniel, the courage of Nehemiah and the love of Paul? Certainly it is, for such character traits thrive only in souls that give much time to God.
Spiritual procrastination—putting off God’s plans while we pursue our plans—is a disciple’s greatest enemy. It hinders our spiritual growth so effectively that the devil doesn’t have to oppose us! He rests while we self-destruct—by wasting our precious, and irrecoverable, time.
So many believers have plenty of free time but refuse to use any of it for God. Forgetting that the good is ever the enemy of the best, they commit all their spare moments to good works. Hence, worldly busywork usurps spiritual activity and temporal interests crowd out eternal pursuits. The Christ-life in them is quenched—either worked to death or “clubbed” to death—by the garden club, the book club, etc. While society may praise them, such lives will at the last be reckoned “much ado about nothing” from God’s perspective.
Other saints have very little extra time. Yet, surprisingly, some of these hear and answer the call to seek the Lord. How do they do it? Where do they find the time to abide with Jesus in the secret place? They don’t find it, they make it. Because they take Matthew 6:33—“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness”—seriously, they prayerfully rearrange their daily schedules to create windows of opportunity to give time to the Lord. Then something wonderful occurs.
Because they give time to the Lord, He gives them more time to give. In Matthew 25:29, Jesus revealed an amazing spiritual law, that believers who make good use of what they have will be given more: “For unto every one that hath shall be given [more], and he shall have abundance.” And, He continues, those who do not use what they have will lose it: “but from him that hath not [used what he hath] shall be taken away even that which he hath.”
Applying this principle to our use of time, we discover that God gives more time to those who use their time for Him. When the Lord sees us using our free time to seek Him, He is so pleased that He works wonders in our circumstances to give us more free time. So the more time we make for Him, the more we find new time to take for Him: “and he shall have abundance.”
Fellow disciple, where are you in regard to time management? Does this way of self-discipline mean anything to you? Are you using or wasting the time God has given you? Whatever your answers, here is one question infinitely more important: Are you willing now to take time to seek the Lord? To do so, you will have to establish new, spiritual priorities. This will likely result in a major disruption of your present lifestyle. It will mean rescheduling your typical workdays, evenings, and weekends to create time for God.
As life at the feet of Jesus becomes your new passion, you will find that many formerly important pastimes fade away forever; many of your firsts become lasts and your lasts firsts. Such a personal reformation commands the attention of God, whose eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth seeking those who willingly take time to know Him, and He will immediately begin revealing Himself to you in a much greater dimension.
—Condensed from Walking in His Ways by Greg Hinnant, published by Creation House Press, Lake Mary, FL.