If ever God had a favorite child, it would have been David—the shepherd boy made king. In spite of his flaws and failures, David unashamedly expressed his love for the Lord through praise, worship, and even dance. David was favored by God and destined to be king, but fulfilling his destiny was no easy endeavor.
Jealous of David and his favor, King Saul sought to put an end to the young man. David fled into the wilderness, and a bunch of misfits followed. This group slowly grew stronger, but they were always in danger from the king’s forces. Much of life was spent on the run—their only security being the promises of an unseen God.
At one point, David and his followers stayed in the town of Ziklag. While the warriors were out conducting a raid, a group of Amalekite raiders sacked Ziglag, burning the town and taking all the women and children captive. Upon returning and seeing the destruction, David and his men were devastated. Some of them were so angry that they threatened to stone their leader.
David’s response is one for the ages:
Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. 1 Samuel 30:6 (NASB)
The crisis shook David to his core, but he was undaunted because of his practice of drawing near to the Lord regardless of his circumstances. The result? future king led his men on a surprise attack against the Amalekites. All the captives were rescued, and a huge amount of plunder was secured.
The Most Powerful Habit
Perhaps the most powerful habit we can develop involves drawing near to God for a daily devotional time of prayer, worship, and Bible reading. The exact nature of these times is not the primary issue and might be subject to change depending on the seasons of our lives. The consistency of the habit, however, means everything.
Some people run to God only when confronted by personal difficulties. Others avoid spending time with their Creator because they feel unworthy to be in His presence. The truth is that we are all unworthy. Not a single person makes the grade to meet the standards of heaven’s perfection. However, Hebrews 4—one of the most powerful chapters about rest in the New Testament—encourages us to to draw near to God nonetheless:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. Hebrews 4:14-16 (HCSB)
Our High Priest
Why can we enter God’s presence day in and day out? Jesus is the perfect and eternal high priest—the sinless Savior who serves as an intercessor between God and humanity. Not only are we cleansed from our sins by the blood of His sacrificial death, the totality of His human experience means that He understands our struggles.
If we approach God in faith and humility, the door to His throne room will always be open.
The Lord is exceedingly gracious, and He will embrace the wayward soul who has avoided His presence. At the same time, I think it is dangerous to view Him as a giant “vending machine in heaven” that spits out what we want when the right amount of “coinage” is deposited. Again, the Christian life is one of relationship, and our relationship with God is something that grows over time as we take the time to seek Him.
John Wesley founded the Methodist church, leaving a long legacy of godly influence in the process. His brother Charles also played a key role in those endeavors. In spite of their father being a pastor, much of the Wesley’s spiritual development came from their mother. In the midst of running a household and raising ten children, Susanna Wesley would daily throw her kitchen apron over her head to spend time in prayer and reading God’s Word. No doubt, her daily habit played a powerful role in shaping the lives of her children, and in turn, the world.
The amount of time Susanna Wesley invested in her devotions does not represent a standard that demands replication. Her example, however, is one to be followed. High-demand seasons of life can make it painfully difficult to keep a daily devotional time, but we have a way of finding creative opportunities when we truly value something.
Finding Strength in God
If you struggle with finding time to spend with God, ask Him to give you a plan. It might not fit the image of a “perfect” devotional life, but time with our Creator is always well spent. If we want to know and experience God’s rest, we must take the time to seek Him and learn from His Word because rest begins with God. Seeking the Lord through the ups and downs of life enables the promises of the Bible to become reality in our lives.
Throughout my own life, I have experienced many highs and lows. And sometimes, those lows involved long, difficult seasons of anxious frustration. One thing has remained constant, however. I have continued to seek God daily, to read His Word and spend time in His presence. This practice has led to a “rebuilding” of my life, through which the Lord continues to restore me with His healing touch.
I learned long ago that I am powerless to bring peace to my own heart. But I can position myself to find strength and rest in the rock of my salvation. There are different types of rest, and the highest form of Sabbath requires both escape from the world and time alone with God.