Living in Florida, I find myself getting very homesick for New Mexico this time of year. The fall season, in shorts and flip flops on the beach, as wonderful as that sounds, is simply not fall. My favorite part of the season is the sound of crunching leaves. When we lived in Atlanta my husband and I would go for walks, during which I would start to swerve and weave, trying to step on the leaves that had fallen to the ground. My husband, of course, thought I was mad; we had only been married a short time, and he didn’t know I had an affinity for crunching leaves. It’s almost an addiction. If I saw one of those big reddish brown maple leaves, fallen to the ground intact and pitched up like a tent, I simply could not resist the urge to step on it with my boot to hear it crunch. The sounds of fall are my favorite part. Atlanta has huge, gorgeous trees that would whistle as the wind whipped through them, creating a symphony of crisp sounds. It always reminded me of the Lord’s presence; I felt I could simply be swept up in His embrace. But as I sit here in my Florida cafe sipping my chai latte, wearing a sweater, and pretending that it’s fall, I am reminded that His still small voice is not constrained to the fall winds. His voice is always there, but I so often struggle to listen. I rarely take the time to listen to the sounds of His nearness, of His heart beat, of His presence. But as I tune my ears to hear God’s still and quiet voice, beckoning me to be still, asking me to put him first, prodding me to let go of my current worries, I feel a resistance boiling up inside me, the desire to say “not right now God” or “just a moment”, the evasive moment which of course never comes around. I find myself knowing deep down what the Lord wants me to do, and yet I find that my greatest excuse for not listening to God is that I don’t have the time.
I’m sure you can relate to the struggle of not having enough time. I can only imagine how busy your life is, how many things you have on your plate, and how many people count on you on a daily basis. We all have such long to-do lists and they just get worse around the holidays. I find myself thinking that my problem is the universe’s lack of time. If only the world took a little longer to spin around its axis, giving me just a few more hours in a day, then I would have the time and motivation in those last few hours to squeeze in whatever it is I don’t presently have time for. But in reality, I know that if given a few extra hours a day, I would undoubtedly find myself in front of the TV watching my favorite show or enjoying a bit more online shopping. Therefore, it can’t be a problem with my lack of time. My frustrating inability to listen to the Lord in my daily walk cannot be solved with more hours in the day, so it must be a problem with how I spend my time. Jesus says in Matthew 6:21…
“For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” (NKJV)
I know that most of us think the treasure this verse talks about is money, but I think we can easily say that time is also a treasure. So where my time is there my heart is also. Yikes! Now this is where I get to be very transparent with you so that you know you are not the only one struggling with how to spend your time. Embarrassing as it is, here is a week in the life of Aubrey…
Monday-Friday (120 hours)
Sleeping/Showering, etc. ……………………….. 42 hours
Eating/Cooking…………………………………… 20 hours
Watching TV/Netflix………………………….. 10 hours
On my phone doing who knows what…….. 10 hours (yikes!)
Driving ……………………………………………7 hours
Time with my husband………………………..5 hours
Exercising……………………………………….. 5 hours
Socializing (in person)………………………… 5 hours
Time with God………………………………….. 3 hours
Appointments………………………………….. 3 hours
Grocery shopping……………………………… 3 hours
Now, I know that it seems a bit excessive to give you the inner workings of my week, but I can’t tell you how eye-opening it was to write this down. I realize that most of you have a full-time job and if I had done this during last year’s school year it would look a little different; work would have taken up about 45-50 hours of my week and I would have spent less time on everything else. Part of the reason I felt the Lord leading me not to teach this year was that my time with my husband, time with God and my health were suffering. I am not saying that God is telling you to quit your job! But what I have begun to realize in this season of Sabbath was that no matter how much TIME I have I will always find ways to fill it unless I am intentional about setting my priorities. So there it is, our ability to listen to the voice of God comes down to our priorities. Looking at the way we spend our time and our money can be a good gauge for what our priorities are. Sometimes we get lost in our own heads. If you were to sit down across from me at this moment and ask me what is most important to me, I would tell you God, my family, and my health and the health of others; but if you were to look at the way I spend my time and money there seems to be a different story. I know this feels like you just sat on a spiky pin cushion, I am squirming in my seat just having to admit that, but this isn’t about feeling guilty. The Lord does not bear a spirit of condemnation on us so neither should you. We should already know that we are human, God never asked us to become God when He saved us, what He asks of us He says clearly in Micah 6:8…
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (NKJV)
We are to walk humbly with God. This sounds very poetic, but how do we do that amidst our chaotic, fast paced schedules?
One of my husband’s favorite things to do with me is to take our dog for a walk in the evenings. He frequently asks me when I have already changed into my comfy pajamas or when I am in the middle of doing something. I will sometimes grumble and say it’s just not a good time or that I really don’t feel like walking, but what I have come to realize is that he loves that time with me. We always have such meaningful, uninterrupted conversations (unless Kayden sees a rabbit). We share our stories from the day, talk about plans for tomorrow or discuss ideas that have been on our minds. In the same way, this is what the Lord desires for us. He is no different, in that regard, from my sweet husband and puppy dog standing at the door, leash in hand, asking me ever so kindly if I would go on a walk with him. His eyes, eager in anticipation, that this time I might say yes and he would get to hold my hand as we walk through the neighborhood. On the days I feel that I just don’t have the time, I remind myself that time is not the issue at hand. When I say yes and go on that walk with my husband I am making him a priority, I am walking with him, giving him my time. While I know we all have practical demands upon our time, a job that wears us out, children that rely upon our attention, so many forces pulling us in all directions we can still walk humbly with God in the midst of it all. His presence is very near to you all day, He’s in the car as you ride to work, He’s in the kitchen as your cooking dinner, He’s at the table across from you at lunch and in your class at school… waiting, wanting, hoping that you’ll want to walk with Him, to listen to the sound of His voice.
A.W. Tozer in his book Pursuit of God says that we can have the same daily, intimate walk with God the saints of old had. The only difference between us and them is the decision to press into the manifestation of God’s presence. In other words, making it a habit to notice that He is there.
“…they [the saints] had spiritual awareness and cultivated it until it became the biggest thing in their life… when they felt the inner longing they did something with it… they acquired the life long habit of spiritual response.” -Tozer, Ch. V
So don’t be swept away this fall by your long to-do lists and allow God’s sweet presence to seep into every area of your life, allowing you to hear the whisper of His voice in the ordinary happenings of your day. And when you see him standing there, eyes full of hope that you might say yes, make the time to walk with Him for He deeply wants to hold your hand and share His thoughts with you.