I cannot expect to be led by the Lord if I cannot discern the Lord's voice.
I have learned there is a distinction between being aware of God throughout my day and consciously setting aside time just for God. While there is a distinction between being aware of God and deliberately setting aside time solely for God, the latter affects the former. The more time I spend with God, the more I am aware of and hear God.
We must set aside time dedicated solely to God.
When the Lord recently led me to examine a hardened part of my heart, the Lord also prompted me to spend more time with Him. My hardened heart was very much related to the little time I was setting aside for the Lord. The less time I spend with God, the less I recognize God’s voice. My inability to recognize God's voice makes my heart hard and less malleable to the things of God. It is not that God is not moving; it is that I become less sensitive to God’s movement.
Too many of us expect to maintain an intimate relationship with Christ without spending time devoted purely to Christ. In this respect, our relationship with God is much like any other relationship. Without time safeguarded wholly for my spouse, my friend, my sibling, my parent, you name it, our relationship will not grow. If I do life alongside a friend without dedicating time specifically to that friendship, that friendship will become stagnant. Likewise, I will never maximize communion with our Lord if I solely execute my day alongside God without sharing my day with God. And, so it is with you.
We may be able to maintain the statutes quo with our Lord by acknowledging Him and being aware of Him. We may even maintain the status quo in our relationship with God by frequently gathering with other believers, serving others, and avoiding sin. But the Lord has called us to maturity in Christ. And I am convinced that maturity in Christ necessitates isolated time with our God.
And I am not being extreme—I am just encouraging you to set aside a small amount of your day purely for God. It is true that communing with other believers, serving others, and avoiding sin are attributes of Christ. But the personal, alone time with our Lord is the platform for Christ.
And so I reiterate ad nauseam, there is a direct relationship between the undistracted time we spend alone with God and our ability to hear God’s voice.
The more time we spend with God, the better we will discern God’s voice. The better we discern God’s voice, the more full our communion with God will be. The more full our communion with God, the more mature we become in God. Growing in Christ means knowing Christ. To continuously know Christ more requires time alone with Christ.
Praise God that our Lord Jesus desires to spend time with us. I pray you safeguard this time. For me, I am learning to perpetually fight for this time with God. Even when this means fighting against myself or my lack of desire. If we do not understand the impact of personal time with our Lord; if we do not regard this time as precious, we will forever choose our time over time with our Lord.
"[T]he sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice." (John 10:4 NIV).
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27 NIV).
"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." (Luke 5:16 NIV).
"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." (Mark 1:35 NIV).
"Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say." (Isaiah 28:23 NIV).
If I seem verbose today, I certainly am. I am drinking a very large latte. And I am absolutely unapologetic.
Much love to you,