"How's it going?"
"Great! Man, I'm BUSY! Works going great. We have more business than we know what to do with and I got that raise at the beginning of the year. It just never seems like enough though!!"
"I know what you mean."
"How's the wife and kids?
"I guess good. The wife and I see each other passing in the hall and I send the kids text messages each day to catch up and everything seems to be good. Work just has me so wrapped up, I can't even see straight. How about you?"
"I'm the same. Between work, the kids sports, trying to keep up with chores around the house, there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day. It seems like when I'm not at the office, I'm at a softball field, a baseball field, a football field, a soccer field or some other kind of field! I can't even tell you the last time we sat down and ate dinner AT THE TABLE!"
"I hear that! Most of my meals are handed to me through a drive thru window these days or a quick stop at Chili's. If we're home as a family for a meal, we usually just sit around the TV so we can veg out, catch our breath and not have to think too much."
"By the way, how's your time with God? Your bible study time?"
"Well, I listen to my audio bible on my drive to work each day and I say my prayers at night when we tuck the kids in. I'm just lucky to have time to breathe right now!!"
Does that conversation sound like anything you've said or heard in your life the last few weeks, months or years? I'm not asking from a point of condemnation or judgement. I'm asking because I've been there.
Since God intervened in my life two months ago to abruptly get me off that merry-go-round that I'd selfishly chosen to be on for the last eight years, I've come to realize that Satan's biggest, scariest and most veiled lie that he has perpetrated on man-kind today - and many of us have bought into lock, stock and barrel - is two-fold:
- The busier you are, the more prosperous you will be and the more people will admire you
- A devotional app on your phone, an audio bible through your car speakers and a quick drive-by prayer is at best better than nothing or even worse, we actually believe that God is pleased with us doing that!!
Let's get a few things straight before you begin to think I'm advocating not working or not being a productive part of society:
- God's word tells us to work - (2 Thes 3:10)
- God originally designed us to work - (Gen 2:7-9; 15)
- God wants us to be prosperous and wants to richly bless us - (Psalm 84:11; 2 Cor 8:9)
- God wants us to honor Him with the success He gives us and to care for those less fortunate - (Prov 3:9-10; Prov 19:17; James 1:27)
- He is also a jealous God and wants to be your #1 - Period!! - (Ex 20:4-5; Ex 34:14)
Satan isn't called Ole Slick for no reason. He is the father of all lies (John 8:44). And the best lies are those that are veiled and covered with a little bit of what we perceive as truths. Over the last three years as I drove 150-miles round-trip each day to Dallas for work, I bought into that lie all the while my Father was sitting and waiting for me to sit down long enough to have a real one-on-one conversation while being FULLY ENGAGED AND FULLY PRESENT - not distracted by the world around me and giving him the crumbs of my life.
Think about it this way. How would you feel if you were sitting with your spouse or kids or business associate or employee or client and the entire time you were talking, they had their iPhone in their hand looking at every text, every email, every Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat notification? At some point you would either stop engaging or throw your hands up and walk away because you know they were not FULLY ENGAGED AND FULLY PRESENT. We are doing the same thing to God when we scoot down the road at 75 MPH dodging in and out of traffic while listening to today's feel-good YouVersion devo. He feels just like you would in this situation as you sit at your desk in the morning listening to Chris Tomlin's How Great is Our God during your "quiet time" at the office and answer the string of last night's pressing emails.
Again, I was there! I was you! As recently as eight weeks ago!!
While all this was going on, Satan sat back in a corner laughing hysterically as I bought into his lie. He knew that each day that he kept me from being FULLY ENGAGED AND FULLY PRESENT with my Father, it was one more step he could get me away from the cross. Over time, that one step becomes two steps and before you know it, you look up and it's a year later and you're 300 steps - or 900 YARDS AWAY FROM THE CROSS. That's half a mile away from God's arms; His protection; His voice; His guidance; His presence. Over three years - that's 1.53 miles away. With that gap, he can start dangling the temptations of the world in our faces and before we know it, our decisions, discernment and difficult choices don't seem so wrong any longer.
Satan knows if he can get us focused on our wants, needs and desires and wrap it up under the bow of "responsibility" and "progress" or "duty," then he can keep us distracted for L-O-O-O-O-O-N-G time. Muhammad Ali used to call this a rope a dope.
How does God feel about this? Well, He gives us a pretty good idea in Haggai 1:5-6;9...
Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!
“You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”
“You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house."
What's the answer? Tune in tomorrow for Part 2...