“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.’
But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.’”
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.’” (Matthew 16:21-27)
This passage is worthy of a campout, metaphorically speaking. We need to set up our camp chair, pitch our tent (ok, maybe an RV), build a fire pit and settle in for a stay.
If you are a fisherman you take your chair down to the lakeside and cast your line into the rippling waters. Let it sink down into the depths of the waters, into the world of the fish, a world quite different from our world of air. You sit in quietness patiently awaiting your prize, a big fish for dinner.
If you are a hiker and explorer, you put on your hiking boots and gather your supplies for a day hike into the surrounding countryside. Your eyes are keen to see every sight; you don’t want to miss the smallest plant or bird or animal. Your ears are alert to the call of an eagle, the delicate and joyful songs of the forest birds, the rushing of the river waters and the wind in the pines. You breathe in the fresh, invigorating scents of the out of doors. Rounding a bend or cresting a summit, you thrill at the vista before you. Your heart expands with the beauty and wonder of it all. These are the treasures you anticipate and spend your energies for.
Camping out in God’s Word can bring us panoramas and thrills and joys in a deeper, more profound way than even the most treasured moments of our favorite activities.
So how do you camp out in God’s Word, exactly? First of all, when you go camping anywhere, you have to carve out time to do it. The camping trip becomes a priority.
We must become the masters of our time, rather than Time being our master. It is a fact that we will do what we want to do. We will find a way to do whatever is important to us. We will: That is simply what it is all about, a matter of the will. Do we want to know God more deeply by spending time with him? And are we willing to do what it takes to make that happen?
I struggle with this very thing. I want to spend more time in God’s Word, really hearing him in the words so I can learn from him. Personally, I require solitude, or at least quiet, to do that well. That’s just how I am.
On the opposite pole is a dear pastor I know, a wonderful and gifted teacher of the Word, whose favorite place to write his sermons is the neighborhood McDonalds! I find that unbelievably funny because there is no way I could accomplish writing anything in a noisy, bustling McDonalds! Yet it works for him, and he is a witness for Christ to the patrons and workers while preparing spiritual food for those of us who come to church on Sunday.
I find it amazing and wonderful how God has made us all different. He is loving it too, I’m sure, when he sees us pursuing him in all our differing ways.
Anyway, back to our will to master our time in order to spend time with God, reading and studying his Word. We do what we want to do, when we want it badly enough.
Want to have more faith? Want it badly enough to make time to read? Because faith comes by hearing the Word (Romans 10:17). Need encouragement? That too is found in the Bible; encouragement comes from the scriptures (Romans 15:4). Need instruction for living and examples of what not to do and be and also what to do and be? Guess where to look: the Bible (I Corinthians 10:11).
I want to have time to write more, so on many mornings I get up earlier to be able to do so. I snatch times later in the day to focus my thoughts and energies on writing. I also want to read the scriptures more, so I make that a priority for my mornings. Somewhere time can be found. Somewhere in my own 24-hours-a-day allotment of time.
One of my friends listens to scripture on CD when she drives. Another listens to it when she is working around her home. Talk about multi-tasking! They are making time and technology serve them.
We can creatively make time our slave, rather than be a slave to time. We can use technology to serve us, furthering our goals to spend time in God’s Word.
There, in God’s Word, we can increase our faith. And find encouragement to press on. And gain instruction and examples for living in this world.
Master (your) Time. “‘For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds’” (Matthew 16: 27).
“Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts …” (Hebrews 3:13-15).