The Rice and the Ping Pong Ball
In his earthly ministry, Jesus pulled away from the disciples and the crowds time after time to spend time alone with God. How often do you spend time alone with God? Have you discovered the freedom and joy of spending daily time in reading the Bible, praying (includes talking and listening) and meditating? Far from being just one more thing to add to your to-do list, daily time spent with God provides the life line to abun-dant life Christ and the rudder for Christian living.
Perhaps you remember hearing me tell the children about the rice, the ping pong ball, and the baby food jar. It’s a favorite children’s message in which the jar represents one day, the rice represents all the things we have to do in that day, and the ping pong ball represents God. To start, I empty the rice out into a cup. Then I show the children the difference of putting God first in our day as opposed to jumping into our to-do list without consulting the Lord. As you might imagine, if God (ping pong ball) is put in our day (baby food jar) then all the activities of our day (rice) fit into the jar. If however, we put everything else in first (rice) and then try to squeeze God (ping pong ball) it just doesn’t work. There’s no way it all fits.
Martin Luther found alone time with God so valuable that he said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Three hours may seem impossible, especially if alone time with God is a spiritual practice that is new to you. The important thing to remember is to start somewhere, perhaps with 20 minutes a day, and be consistent. Choose a place and a time each day that works best for you.
I find it most helpful to spend the early morning hours with the Lord reading the Bible, and spending time in prayer and meditating. Putting my devotion at the beginning of the day helps me to think of God first. Some people find it more helpful to spend time with God at night planning for the day to come. Whichever time works best for you, find a rhythm and stay with it. Soon you will wonder how you ever survived without your daily time alone with God.
After all, Jesus is our best friend; who doesn’t want to spend time with their best friend? Not only is Jesus our best friend, God our Creator, knows everything about us. Who better to help us solve our problems, point us in the right direction, help us to live meaningful lives that glorify the Lord? And we can’t forget the Holy Spirit, "in whom we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28), the One who provides power for living.
When you practice spending daily time alone with God, not only will you have more clarity and peace, you also will be a better witness for the Lord. The Bible tells us that after Moses spent time with God, his face glowed (Exodus 34:28-35). The people could clearly see God’s presence in him. Although your face may not light up a room, time spent in prayer, reading the Bible, and meditating should have such an effect on your life, that people will, know that there is something different about you, and will experience the irresistible invitation of Christ through you. What could be better than that?
With gratitude to God and for each of you,