Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Grazing and Feasting

In spending some time in prayer this morning, frustrated with many aspects of my life right now, I truly feel that God spoke to me. Not in a loud booming voice, or even an audible whisper, but a simple truth emerged in my mind that wasn't there when I started praying.

Lately I've been very focused on the concept of growth. (Lately is really an understatement, to be honest I'm kinda obsessed about the whole thing) I'm always trying to better understand and better practice spiritual growth in my life. And with the advent of our new church starting, my weekly discipleship lunch has also got me praying for and involved in the growth of my friends as well.

It was on this topic that I was talking to God and trying to understand why I feel like I'm not growing... and how can I help my friends to grow if I myself don't feel like I'm growing the way that I should! The first clear rebuke I got was obvious. I don't necessarily grow the way "I" want to, but as a single tree in the Father's orchard of faith, I am to grow according to the Masters plan.

However, the second thing that the Lord spoke to me cut much deeper. I was asking about the time that we spend together both in prayer and in the Word... am I doing it right?

Now, I have to say, for someone who has been a full time "pastor" and worked in the ministry, this was a humbling and scary question to ask. I've had plenty of warm-hearted, well-intentioned, godly men either teach me or tell me what a "quite time" is supposed to be like, but I've never felt like it was "mine". I never owned the idea. I've always seen it as a ritual of faith that everyone says you need to do in order to be a better Christian. It never seemed "personal" enough for me.

Here's what I feel I learned this morning:

Most Christians "graze" when it comes to spending time with God. They hunt and peck at the Word, reading a little here and there. Some might even follow a schedule or pattern, but still are just grazing or blindly reading the words on the page. Their prayers are either self-focused, or scattered and random as the thoughts come scattered across the dusty floorboards of their mind. They spend the time, time being the operative word, and think that this is what is expected.

(I must admit, many times, this is me)

However, Jesus said:

"I am the manna that fell from heaven"
"I am the bread of life"
"... I will give him living water"
"... He who drinks of this water will never be thirsty again"

The real difference between grazing and feasting is not actually in the amount of food that is eaten, although, that's the obvious choice. The real difference is in the attitude and hunger of the individual BEFORE they get to the food. If you are completely full and a table of snacks and food is placed in front of you, you will graze possibly, to be gracious to your host, and not be disrespectful. However, if the same spread of food is placed in front of you and you are starving and hungry for food, you would not apologize, but dig in unashamed.

This is the difference that we must understand when approaching a "quiet time"...

(btw... I don't like that term, it's just makes me feel like kindergarden and I'm in trouble again)

If we too "full" of ourselves and our life's activities to spend the time, or have the desire to interact with God, it is not the amount of sustenance that God offers us that needs to change, but our attitude.

"It is our attitude of approach that will determine how much
(or how little) we get out of communion with the Almighty."

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