Tim and Jill Way

Adventures of the Way Family

With Jesus

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.  He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.  –Mark 3:13-15

I’ve developed kind of a bad habit lately.  It’s about Philip.  I’ve been letting him lay down with me when I go to bed at night sometimes.  It’s a bad habit because, firstly, he should already be tucked away in his own bed fast asleep by the time I get around to heading to bed.  And secondly, it’s a bad habit because he wants to do it all the time, and he really should learn how to settle down in his own bed at night.  Some nights he reads to me.  Other nights he just talks…  And talks…  And talks.  In fact, on such nights I often fall asleep to the sound of his voice.  Like I said, a bad habit.  But I’m not going to stop anytime soon.  Because this is my son, and he wants to be with me!

According to the above passage, the twelve apostles’ first calling was to be with Jesus.  Jesus selected them to be with Him.  In fact, they could never have carried out the second part of the calling – going out to preach and drive out demons – without devoting themselves to the first.  There is a calling on your life, and it is significant and wonderful.  And I know what it is – at least I know the most important part of it.  It is to be with Jesus.  From that place, He will also send you out into the world to spread His love and power and truth.  But first things must be first.

Jesus reminded the twelve about this point on the night before His death:

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. — John 15:4-5

I know what it’s like to be busy, and to feel like there is just not enough time for everything.  I know what it’s like to struggle with the disciplines of the spiritual life.  I know what it is to long for more sleep.  I know what it is to feel guilty over not reading my Bible or spending time in prayer.  Please understand, this is not meant to be another guilt trip.  And yet, I am compelled to exhort you to fervently pursue Jesus.  I need to remind you that you have to spend time with Him daily.  I know we’re taught to avoid ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts,’ because they tend towards legalism, guilt, and condemnation.  However, remember that Jesus Himself taught his followers that “they should always pray and not give up”  (Luke 18:1).

My friends, please hear what Jesus says.  “Without me you can do nothing.”  The work of the Boiler Room.  The ministry of Owen Park Outreach.  Going to other nations as missionaries.  None of these activities can possibly produce any good fruit apart from Jesus.  In fact, they will only spread death.  Our primary responsibility is to stay connected to Him.  To abide in Him.  Our first  calling is to be with Him.  This is hard.  This is beautiful.  This is just the way it is.

But how do we do this?  I am no expert, believe me.  But I want to give you a few suggestions, and trust that as you cultivate a true hunger for relationship with Jesus, He will help you to work out the details.

1     Make time every day for God.  I strongly suggest this be in the morning.  It may be 15 minutes.  It may be an hour.  But start with something.  Read a passage of scripture, and pray what is on your heart.  Maybe just be quiet, but meditate on the Word or on the fact of Jesus’ presence with you.

2     Engage in the discipline of “practicing the presence of God.”  By that I simply mean to acknowledge Him throughout the day.  Shoot up one-line prayers.  Tell Him what you think and feel.  Ask for His perspective.  Or simply just remind yourself that He is there.  By the way, this is not a substitute for a daily quiet time, but a wonderful addition.

3     Give Jesus your burdens.  This is related to number 2, but I wanted to emphasize it.  Throughout the day as you feel stressed, or as you think of people for whom you are contending, practice giving them to the Lord.  Pronounce your trust in Him to take care of the people and issues that touch your life.  When you are fatigued, practice receiving strength from Him as you offer up the things that weigh you down.

4     Join your spiritual family in the prayer room for specific times of corporate prayer together.  We have set aside every single day from 6-7 pm to pray together.  Put it on your calendar to show up once or twice a week, and then follow through.  Seriously.  It is refreshing (except when it’s just tough, but even then it’s good).

I’ll stop with that.  And end with this:  I need this desperately, and I know it.  But I am also growing in my awareness of how much I need it.  Some days I pray for an hour, plus spend time in corporate prayer.  Other days I pray for 15 minutes and beg God to let it be enough.  Other days I don’t really pray at all (sorry if it pains you to hear this).  But the more I do, and the longer I walk with Jesus, the more convinced I am that this needs to be a high priority.

Jesus is wonderful.  Spending time with Him is the greatest privilege in life.  It is also the single most important thing for those who want to be fruitful servants of the Gospel.


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