“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Jesus Christ said that as a statement of fact, not hyperbole. He offers complete forgiveness for our sins, infinite wisdom for our daily decisions, and a path to the fullest life one can possibly experience in both this life and the one to come. Following Him brings the deepest satisfaction any person will ever experience, and that offer is available to all who will turn to Him. Many of us have been so deeply moved and transformed by this reality we now offer our time, money, and skills toward causes that help as many people as possible experience Jesus like we have.
But we are also busy people. We work jobs, care for our families, try to keep up with friends, participate in churches, take care of our physical health, maintain our homes, and so much more. As I write this, I can hear my wife in the other room helping my younger son work out a disagreement with the older one. We also have aging parents, struggling friends, and a leaky pipe in our downstairs bathroom. The busy lives that we live can cause us, unintentionally, to lose sight of Jesus even while still confessing to love Him supremely. We cannot let this be the case!
We were designed to crave and enjoy unending intimacy with God. This has been true since Adam and Eve were in the garden. We need His regular presence at a depth and to a degree that our words can never fully articulate. “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1) The tragedy of the Fall was that sin created a barrier to man’s relationship with God. The beauty of Jesus is that He has built a bridge to overcome that barrier and we can now enjoy intimacy with God again by following Him daily. But my aging father has a health need that just came up. I want to be a good son so that requires my attention too.
Jesus is amazing AND we are busy. Therein lies the conundrum. But the challenge this creates is not without hope. Instead, this challenge offers motivation for all of us to fight like crazy to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfector of our faith.” This isn’t a call for tireless toil and labor. It is a call to humble prayer that is consistent and disciplined. There are many ways to grow in this area. I want to unpack two of them here.
The first way I practice fixing my eyes on Jesus is a daily method. I engage in something called breath prayers. These short prayers, often just a sentence or less, are silently uttered as I go through my normal day. Today, in fact, a ministry leader shared with me a challenge she was facing. Just before I was to respond, I silently prayed “God, please help me know how to reply.” These quick and simple prayers do get answered and they remind us that God is in the details of our lives. They teach us regular surrender and humility and they require no scheduling. They also help me “pray without ceasing” as the Apostle Paul instructed the Thessalonian believers of old.
The second practice does require some scheduling. I encourage friends to take periodic trips away to spend more pronounced time with God. This can be as short as a walk in your neighborhood, an afternoon at a coffee shop, or sitting in a park without a phone or other distractions. This can also include solo getaways for a night or two for the purpose of prayer and listening to God. There are wonderful retreat centers scattered around that create great places for sitting with God in pronounced ways. My favorite one in Savannah overlooks the Moon River. But a secluded Airbnb is also a great option. (If you need a resource to help guide you toward a longer period alone with God, I recommend the book Solo: Creating Space with God by Stephen Smith and Peter Ivey.
We all need help to stay focused on Jesus. The practices each of us employ for this will look different, but they will all require some degree of humble prayer that is consistent and disciplined. Give yourself grace as you develop the muscles to fix your eyes on Jesus. It’ll take some time to find the right rhythms for you but the benefit of felt intimacy with Jesus is absolutely worth the investment. As the old hymn goes, “I need thee, oh I need thee. Every hour I need thee.” As you practice growing near to Him, you will see more and more that He will fill the mundane moments of your days with His presence in ways you can experience.
May we all walk closer with Jesus today than we did yesterday. God is with us…may we not miss Him!
At Orchard, we practice what we preach by offering spiritual support and training to non-profit ministry leaders through our Coaching program and the Orchard Institute curriculum. Learn more about how you can support these leaders as they grow by visiting www.meetorchard.org/givetoorchard.