In general, our society is very task-oriented. Most of us have to-do lists, honey-do lists, and calendars telling us what we should be doing at any given moment (and we never get everything done, but that’s another post for another time). From studying history, it seems to me that we Americans have one of the most productive societies that the world has ever seen.
I don’t think productivity is a bad thing at all. I wish I could get more done and finally see an empty to-do list just once in my life. However, I find that I sometimes (okay, often) focus on productivity to the detriment of my relationships. I can’t tell you the number of times I have told one of my kids that I can’t play with them because I have something else I need to do. Sometimes I do put everything else aside to be with my family, but I don’t think I do it often enough.
I think that principle extends to our relationship with God as well. When we become hyperfocused on doing things for God, it can lead us to neglect our relationship with Him. The evidence, Biblically speaking, suggests that He does not want to see this happen. Jesus was God Himself, and He still spent time in prayer and meditation. He also tells Martha that Mary has chosen wisely when she sits at his feet rather than only working.
Of course, God has things for us to do in this world, and He wants to see us accomplish them. We won’t have the power to do much, though, however well-intentioned, if we don’t first take time to be with God, to ask Him to fill us with His power. Both our relationship with Him and what we do for him are important, but one is clearly necessary in order for the other to happen with any effectiveness.
God has definitely taken me to task for being overly focused on, well, tasks. Sometimes He uses something that slows me down like an illness or computer problems to make me realize that I need time with Him first and foremost. Sometimes it’s a sermon or a teaching that helps me realize that my priorities are no longer in order. As many times as I turn to Him and get back on the right path, I inevitably forget the lesson and need to hear it all over again.
I need to remember this lesson especially when I write. When I first began to spend committed time writing, I had devotional or prayer time, sometimes both, each day before I started writing. Recently though, I just jump right in, thinking that I need to make the best use of my limited writing time. After a few days or weeks without these daily devotion times, I find myself having trouble knowing what to write. I can’t give what I don’t have, and if I don’t spend time with the Source of Wisdom, I soon find that I have no words of wisdom to share with anyone else.
God does not intend for us to soldier on, doing His work without any support or help. Although I sometimes wonder why, He chooses to work through us, and He can’t do that if we’re not paying attention to His ways and what He wants from us. I don’t subscribe to legalistic requirements about having daily devotion time, but I do encourage everyone to spend time with God on a regular basis, both alone and with other believers. After all, it’s not really a relationship if those involved don’t spend any time together, is it?