The rewards of spending intentional time with God
by Russ Claassen
“My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” Psalm 84:2
Each year my family and I gather up the tent along with our other camping gear and enough fun campfire food for a summer kickoff camping trip. It is one of the few times during the year we are able to spend 48 hours of uninterrupted time together. No phone calls, emails, video games or television. It is just us, our gear and whatever we encounter along the way.
Time together has proven to be refreshing, renewing, calming, strengthening and healing. We are all in on this camping experience! So why is it that every year when the camping trip rolls around, we find it so hard to take the time off and to disconnect from everything else to make time to be together? Why is it that hard to focus on the relationships that are most dear?
Our struggles to break out of our normal daily practices can seem insurmountable. Although we know what is most beneficial, it is easier to go on as usual. I find the same struggle in my life with Christ. I love the psalmist’s words in Psalm 84. He writes, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, and even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”
As I read this, I am filled with a desire to crave the Lord with such passion. The writer is all in with God. He is longing for the presence of the Lord. I am left with the sense that nothing will stand between him and his relationship with God. In fact, he seems to be engulfed in an attitude that says, “I just want to be with you!”
Even though our camping attitudes can be tested by an all-night downpour or a broken tent pole, our family is strengthened by these times together. It is often more rewarding for us to be together through the worst of circumstances than to walk alone during the easiest of times. That is even truer for me in my relationship with God. “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere” (v. 10). I have found nothing more rewarding than time intentionally spent in the presence of God.
Are you all in with God? Do you long for the Lord’s living presence in your life? What keeps you from the relationship you most desire with the Lord? Is there a place you go or a posture you take that helps you focus on the presence of God? If you were to choose one thing to do this week that would help you draw near to God, what would it be? Will you commit to it?
Russ Claassen is the youth pastor at Koerner Heights Church, Newton, Kan., and is the Southern District Conference youth minister.