By: Staci Stallings
Have you ever tried to be a Christian so hard it hurts? Have you ever done all the right things and still felt like you were completely missing something? I think at some point or another we’ve all been there—reading the Bible, going to church, serving, doing, doing, doing all the right things, but it’s so hard. It’s hard to get motivated to read the Bible. It’s hard to get motivated to teach that Sunday school class or even go to church.
Would it surprise you to find out you’re not alone in having felt that? I’m guessing it would surprise you. I know it would’ve surprised me a few years ago to find I wasn’t the only one “dutying myself” to a spiritual death. But, boy, did I look good doing it!
I knew all the prayers, could recite them at blazing speed, which I did to get through them. I went to church, volunteered, served, joined, read, but to be honest, there were at best flashes of joy. Every so often I would get a glimpse of how cool it is to be with God, but mostly it was just work.
This morning a friend emailed. She related a story that made me laugh out loud because it encapsulates the shift that my life and my relationship with God has gone through in the past three years.
Here it is in her words: “Adoration was awesome today. The guy that snores was there so it was hard to concentrate. But God really spoke to me, I was reading my Bible but not absorbing what I was reading, I heard God say, ‘Hey, put it down, and just hang out with me’. So I was still and the snoring stopped. It was then I heard how much I am loved!!!! AIN’T GOD GREAT?!”
Doesn’t that make your spirit smile? It sure did mine.
I have come to the conclusion that we spend so much time trying to do all the right things that we miss the point of doing them in the first place. The point of reading the Bible and going to church is simply to have some time to hang out with God. Once you get that, you will see that’s all He really wants to do anyway.
He’s not interested in heartless obedience. He made you for a reason, and the reason is so that He would have someone to love. Think of it this way, God is standing right next to you as you sit to read the Bible. You have a goal to read one chapter because that will prove how much you love Him, plus it will meet some requirement you’re sure is written on some requirement book in Heaven.
So you sit down to read. As you start, God says, “Hi, I’m so glad you came.” Immediately, you get annoyed and anchor your attention more forcefully to the page. After a moment God tries again, “Did you notice that sunset out there? It is a real work of art.” Of course, you don’t hear the whole thing, you just looked up and noticed the sunset. “UGH! This reading the Bible is so difficult. I can’t keep my mind on what it’s saying.” In fact, that must be why He requires it, to test just how serious we are in our commitment.
For fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes we diligently push all other thoughts out of our head. Then we read that magic last word. Like a prisoner released, we spring from the chair. Free to go on about our life—duty finished. Of course we feel no more filled with God’s love than we did when we sat down. Why? Because God’s still standing there, wishing we would stop trying to impress Him and learn to just hang out with Him.
Since I’ve gotten off the performance treadmill and started just hanging out with Him, life has gotten so cool! Let me tell you, He’s an awesome friend. We laugh together, cry together, plan together, play together, work together, live together.
Do I read the Bible? You bet I do! Who wouldn’t want to hang out with their best friend? But when I do, I also tune in to what He is telling me. And sometimes all He wants me to do is what Mary did—just sit at His feet, gaze to Him, and listen. Just be with Him. Just hang out.
Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from her. –Luke 10:41-42
The time you spend just hanging out with Christ will never be taken from you because it is the only thing necessary. Try it sometime. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised how full of His love you are when you get up.
Just hanging out with God is cool.