When I look at my life I see so many things vying for my attention — so many things worth evaluating, pursuing or enjoying. All of us are being constantly bombarded with a barrage of things to give our thoughts and devotion to. Some of these things are really good things, but what is it that takes priority?
The things we devote our time, energy and attention to are going to sway our thoughts and actions. I often have to ask myself what it is that I’m bringing into my home, workplace, relationships and personal life, and why. I know that if I’m not prioritizing regular times of solitude with God, my relationship with Him will be thrown out of whack. If I’m not speaking with Him through prayer, studying His Word and quietly listening for His voice on a regular basis, I’m really saying, “Listen God, I’ve got this under control. I can lean on something other than You.” But sooner or later, everything else will crumble away and eventually fail me.
Focusing intentional time away from distractions to be alone with God helps me to focus on what’s really important. By regularly evaluating what my gaze is set on, I can recenter my life around the One thing that really matters. I have to ask myself, “Am I filling my life with the fleeting things of this world or the eternal promises of God?”
I need to keep the Main Thing the main thing in my life. As my wife always says, “Every time you say ‘yes’ to something, you’re saying ‘no’ to something else.” Because even ministry opportunities, church events or family time can be a distraction from time I need to spend with God. Though these are all good and necessary things, they need to be in balance with a life that’s pleasing to God.
“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” — Colossians 2:9-10
There’s a time and a place for every aspect of life. There’s a time to get in the Word, a time to pray, a time to do outreach, a time to spend time with my wife and kids, and a time to hangout with my buddies. But Christ comes first, then my wife and kids, and everything else follows. If my relationship with Christ is out of line, everything else falls out of place. There’s no excuse for neglecting Him!
Sometimes that means I wait in my car for five minutes before I head into the facility so I can speak with God. Sometimes that means I open up the Bible app in my phone and get in the Word while I’m getting a massage after practice. There are ways to find time in the midst of the craziness of life. No matter how busy you are, you’ll make time for the things you love. Where you spend your time reflects what has a hold on your heart.
There are times when I feel distant from God. When that happens, I have to examine what’s going on in my life and heart. If I feel distant from God I have to remember the fact that He hasn’t moved. He remains constant. So if the time I spend in God’s Word seems fruitless or my prayers seem empty, it’s 100 percent on me.
I need to ask myself: Have I truly been seeking God’s will or my own? Have I been spending consistent time in God’s Word? Has my prayer life been a priority lately? For any relationship to be healthy and strong, you have to invest in, talk to, and spend time with the other person. Why would we consider our relationship with God to be any different? How can we expect to feel near to God if we fail to draw close to Him?
Jesus Himself prioritized time spent with the Father. When He was both God and man, He had an incredible connection to the Father — one He continually invested in. He didn’t look to others to teach Him, fill Him with truth or fix His problems; He frequently drew away from the crowds to seek out the Father. He didn’t rely on other people’s sermons and He didn’t completely fill His schedule with service opportunities; He went straight to the original Source.
I know that when my life is in step with God’s will and I’m consistently spending time with Him, I have an inexpressible joy. Filled with the Holy Spirit’s presence, I find myself talking to people I normally wouldn’t. I have more energy and devotion to God’s plan than I could ever muster with my own power. I have more patience to listen to and invest in others. I gain a clear vision for my passion and purpose in Christ. When I know my security rests in the hands of my Savior, I don’t feel fear and anxiety. I know I’m covered with the love of Christ — He’s all I need. I know when I draw close to Him, He will be near to me.
— Chris Maragos
Chris Maragos is a special teams ace and safety with the Philadelphia Eagles and a regular contributor of The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.