Friday in my day planner contained an enormous, bold X encompassing all the hours from 8 until 3.
But not for vacation, a shopping trip, or bingeing on Netflix. Friday’s assignment from 8 to 3 is time with Jesus. It has all kinds of names but on our ministry team’s calendar, it is marked DWL or Day With the Lord.
What a gift, right? A whole day to spend with Jesus. Who doesn’t want that? My daughter commented that it was a vacation. And it certainly looks like that, and feels like that sometimes. I’m thankful that our director sees that we need to be refreshed to pour into the lives of others.
But it is also a challenge. A whole day with Jesus confronts my distractive tendencies, it stands against my desire to produce something, and it reveals the state of my heart. After about 2 hours, I start to squirm, wanting to do something else, wanting to check that phone, the social media, accomplish that task. All the while knowing and wanting to delight in Jesus longer. Ack! The Civil War of the Soul.
Spending extended time with Jesus is a discipline. Meaning, we gain capacity for more through practice and training. So often discipline conjures up a harsh experience that is no fun at all. Discipline…like eating limp broccoli or cleaning up your room when you don’t want to…gets a bad rap.
But what about discipline that trains us for more joy, more capacity to receive from God, more faith? Like training for a 5K, discipline allows us to go farther and experience more delight because we trusted God for more and got to see Him provide.
So, how do you develop the discipline for spending an extended time with Jesus? Here are a few things I’ve discovered that have helped my capacity and enjoyment of Jesus expand during a longer time spent with Him.
- Be a hedonist. Hedonism has negative connotations when it pertains to seeking after our own pleasures apart from God. But what about seeking pleasure in God? By definition hedonism is the doctrine that pleasure is the sole or chief good in life. Well, pleasure in God, loving God, is the chief good in life, so go for it!
How I live out hedonism with Jesus:
Read what I want to read in the Bible as long as I want to read it and as slowly or quickly as I want to read it.
Journal whenever I want to journal
Enjoy a cup of coffee, a candle, or the warmth of my down comforter
Appreciate the ways God has brought good into my life
Indulge my creative side by writing a blog post which I always post on a different day due to the following reality…
Wear comfortable clothes.
- Own my weakness. Days with the Lord have been part of my life for a long time. Years. I have experience with this discipline. Experience doesn’t mean good experience. It means I’ve had good days and I’ve had bad. Since we’re going for good and not regret,
Here are a couple of things I take into account:
I will desire to “produce” instead of “be”. I combat this by planning the whole week to eliminate as much temptation to be productive by completing what I need to complete or surrendering what I cannot complete in time.
I have a limited attention span. I will get to the limit. At that point, I can choose to tap out or change my routine and keep going. Changing my location, what I’m reading, or how I’m interacting helps. I will go to a coffee shop or to another room in our house. It helps to know I will need to face this reality and have a plan for how to adapt.
- Ruthlessly Protect. Time with Jesus doesn’t just happen. There are too many things begging for my attention. Jesus invites but He doesn’t ever seem to shout or twist my arm or force me to connect with Him. I must choose to follow Him. So, I must choose to pattern my life to enable following Him not just for a Day with Jesus, but every day too. For a Day with Jesus, I find I must diligently protect that time.
Here are a few tips:
Dedicate the day in advance. How much in advance is up to you and up to your spiritual needs. Maybe you’re spiritually crashing and burning and tomorrow needs to be the day. Let folks know, cancel appointments, carve out the time.
At least a week helps to give the time to complete necessary work, eliminate distractions, and gather an idea of what you want to read or focus on.
Guard the Day. All week my mind was set on protecting Friday. Guarding against saving an errand for Friday, scheduling an appointment for Friday, leaving a text to answer on Friday.
Silence your Phone. This is a hard one for me as a mom. I feel that I cannot always do this with kids in school. If you can do it, do it.
- Surrender. As a mom of three, I’ve had to accept that there are times when I cannot indulge a Day With the Lord in the way I dreamed. A kid gets sick and needs care. A house repair or errand just really cannot wait (think overflowing toilet, or power outage). Or, when our kids were babies and we lived overseas, my husband and I traded out halfway through the day. There was always a very awkward interchange about who got to go out in the morning and come back in time for nap time!
Even while I may have planned, God might have other plans.
On those days, as disappointing as they are, I began to begin to recognize that I could enjoy Jesus’ care for me in a different way. He sees me and He sees my plight. He can meet me where I am even if I don’t get to spend the day with Him like I wanted to. Sometimes I can rearrange and choose another day and try again. Sometimes I can’t.
Always I have every morning at 6 that I can wake up and spend time with Him.
A Day with Jesus will not make up for every day walking with Him. So, don’t wait for a day in the distant future to spend with Him, answer His invitation every day.