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Go Walk Your Dog

I’m almost 26 now. I’ve officially been out of college longer than I was in it (yes I made it all 4 years). I find myself occasionally longing for the schedule and routine I had at 21 where I could go work out for a couple of hours, play basketball with the guys for two more, and then eat anything I wanted because my metabolism was at its peak. Recently however I am in a stage in life where words like “portion,” “bottled water,” and “diet Dr. Pepper” are regulars in my vocabulary. Probably the biggest change from then to now, is that life is simply busier. In college my Wednesday consisted of class, call my girlfriend, and hangout with friends. Maybe study depending on the month. It was easy! There were no real time demands most of the time. So as a believer, I could pretty much pick whenever to sit down and study my bible and pray. But, those days are over. Today I have a wife I love spending time with, a job as a pastor that I love pouring into, an emotionally needy and mentally lacking chocolate lab, a washing machine that needs repairing, and a 2 month deadline to get my first son’s bedroom ready before his arrival in august. I get up at 6 am, go to bed at 11pm and could rattle you off another 20 things each night that I wanted to get done that day but just didn’t have the time.

The point is, I have to be disciplined now to carve out time in my life to meet with God. I cant just wait until that moment in my day when I have nothing to do. That moment is called college and it is only a memory to me. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells me that all of the scriptures are the very words of God and are useful in all aspects of my life. They are like food to my soul that I should hunger for. And the truth is that I do hunger for them. But If im not careful to make time to feed myself, the barking of the dog and the clanging of the washing machine will suffocate that hunger. And remember, my child isn’t even here yet!

So, after recognizing the pattern of immediate needs killing my spiritual growth, I decided to go on the offensive and re-schedule a daily time to meet with God. I looked for a time in my day that was calmest, and started there. For me, that was the morning. I wake up at 6am everyday. (If you don’t like keeping a schedule this part will frustrate you. But you need to grow up and realize somebody else will decide your schedule for you if you don’t.) By 6:20 I am out the door with my dog for a walk around the neighborhood. Its only about a 20 minute walk, but has turned from an obligatory part of my schedule into a 20 minute daily prayer walk. That is, as I walk by the homes of the neighbors I see regularly, I pray for them, for their marriages and ultimately for their salvation. I pray for opportunities to share the gospel with them. Its awesome! That is also my time to just praise God for his creation or pray for things really weighing on my mind. Warning: Im not saying this is the only time I pray. I find the most growth in my prayer life when I am in solitude, speaking to and listening to God with the scriptures sitting open in front of me. What I AM saying is that I reclaimed a time in my day as an opportunity to meet with God instead of letting it be another task on my honey-do list.

At 6:40 I start reading my bible and usually eat a pop-tart (with Cold Skim Milk. Mmmm). Sometimes that bible reading lasts 40 or 50 minutes, sometimes it lasts 15. Sometimes I read 3 verses, sometimes I read 3 chapters. Today I read chapter 2 of Galatians. I read it over about 4 times and just meditated on what the author was saying. I think I sat there at the island in my kitchen for about 30 minutes or so really trying to think on v.20 that says “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now life in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This is the gospel message. So I tried honestly evaluating where I want to see Christ’s love lived out in my life more than it is right now. Nothing earth shattering hit me at that moment, but things I’ve been praying for like my marriage and my relationship with my co-pastors came to mind. That is how God often speaks to us though. He gives us (via the holy spirit) recall of his word (meaning we’ve been reading it) into our life situations that we are coming before him in prayer about. Its pretty awesome. Sometimes he will use the recall of his word in a fellow believer to speak into our life situation / prayer request. That is even awesomer and it’s why we always have to be in relationships (re: small groups) where that can happen.

So my question to you is really twofold:
1. Are the immediate needs of your life killing your walk with Christ?
2. What is the calmest part of your day & how could you start there in reclaiming a regular time to meet with God? Commute in your car? Your workout hour? Grey’s Anatomy hour?

I would love to hear suggestions that have worked for you to this end. Also, if you are struggling through this battle as I did recently and want a hand in figuring it out, feel free to contact me: sshelton@summitchurch.cc .

  1. May 28, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Nice post.

  2. May 28, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    amazingly well said – I also pray while walking our two goldens… I also find cutting the grass a good time (I can’t hear the kids screaming at me!). When the baby arrives, you can continue your routine… until he can talk… then you may find your morning starts a little earlier… but we all need to learn to make the “main thing” the main thing in our lives. TV, errands, and such should not interfere with our time with our Savior… it is a struggle for us all

  3. May 29, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Great post, Spence. There is probably no greater subject that I feel is more important for Christians than solitude and a daily quiet time with Jesus. I made the habit to meet with the Lord in the morning my freshman year of college. I am not perfect of course every day, but I’ve been able to be consistent as I know that if I don’t start my day first in His Word and getting to know Him, the rest of my day is always off- and typically I am not as sensitive to the Spirit working in me.
    My husband and are expecting our first child as well, so we know exactly what you mean about preparing for the room (& knowing that life will get even busier). We will find out the gender June 3! But again it’s all about priorities.
    Thanks for sharing this. I know it will encourage many people.

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