No Substitute for Time Spent

Challenge Central: a CBC devotional

By: Pastor Lars Janssen

There is no substitute for time spent with a friend. Sometimes the most trivial moments become more meaningful than we ever expected. Things like a casual conversation or a shared trip to a familiar place circle back months or years later as evidence of a deepening relationship. I can remember a trip to the beach where a friend lost his car keys and we had quite a predicament getting home. Or another moment from my teenage years when a friend and I admired his masterful parallel-parking job. Or a late-night conversation with a friend in our church parking lot—made more memorable since we were each reclining on the windshield of our cars. These small memories still come up when I am with these friends. The time we spent together was formative to what we’ve become and the times we continue to spend together will mould our relationship as it grows. There is no substitute for time spent with a friend.

Jesus spent about three years on earth with his disciples. The many moments they shared formed our New Testament and have become more meaningful than any of the disciples could have ever expected at the time. They spent time with him. These various experiences and numerous moments with Jesus were formative. The time they spent with Jesus became the message of their lives, as John points out in 1 John 1:3, “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you.” There is no substitute for time spent with a friend.

Do you spend time with Jesus?

Jesus asked the Father about this in John 17:17. While the Father and Son were spending time together, Jesus said to his Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Jesus was asking his Father to use his Word—what we now call the Bible—to make us more like Jesus. I wonder if that conversation comes up now and then between the Father and the Son as they spend time together in heaven? After all, they have the deepest of deep relationships within the Triune God. They have spent all of time together.

Spending time with God is more than being still and praying, but it is certainly not less. And it costs time. Sharing moments, words, and experiences with Jesus means spending time with him. Here’s your challenge, Central. Pick a time when you can be undisturbed—try 15 or 20 minutes to start—and do something like this:

1. Sit down and spend a few moments asking God to help you get to know him better.

2. Slowly read Luke 1:1-4.

3. Either kneel down or stand up and pray out loud through Luke 1:1-4 beginning with, “Lord, teach me to pray …”

4. Walk around a bit and notice where you’re standing and who might be nearby. Consider the time and what others might be doing at the moment. As you move and consider your surroundings, talk to God about what comes to mind.

5. Open your favourite devotional book and read or re-read a paragraph or two.

6. Sit or kneel down and praise God for encouraging words! Praise him for being willing to spend time with you!

If your time is up and you must move on, go about your day rejoicing and praying in

your mind. If you find joy in spending time with Jesus and you can, go on for longer reading, praying, thinking, and praying what you’re reading! These moments you spend with Jesus will be formative as your relationship deepens.

There is no substitute for time spent with a friend—especially when that friend is Jesus.

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