Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world (John 17:24 – emphasis added).
This really is a magnificent truth. A loving, joyful relationship existed within God himself before the foundation of the world was laid. Love didn’t come into being along with the creation. Rather, love is independent of the creation and fundamental to the nature of God. God truly is love.
That basic truth is one of the most life-transforming realities and one in which I tried to immerse myself during the last two months of sabbatical. One of my main goals was simply to know our Triune God better – to know that God exists in a mysterious relationship of Father, Son and Spirit.
By the grace of God, I believe I was able to better grasp God’s relational nature. However, I also know that I only scratched the surface. We all may take significant steps in our knowledge of God, but we still only “see in a mirror dimly” (1 Corinthians 13:12), and we will spend our entire lives getting to know him more and more.
That being the case, perhaps the real blessing from my time away was not only the knowledge of God that I gained (enormous blessing that it was), but the pattern of seeking to know God that I was able to reestablish. That is, it wasn’t the end result so much as it was the trajectory that I believe will make all the difference.
This past Sunday, I shared about the priority of “abiding.” During my sabbatical, I was able to abide in Christ in a unique way, but my prayer is that the renewed practice of abiding will carry on into my normal rhythms of life. And what’s more, my hope is that Summitview Church as a whole can reset some of those normal practices.
Extended, focused, uninterrupted time with God is an invaluable gift. It may not be something that we can realistically do constantly. Clearly, God wants us to live a balanced life where we work and eat and serve and spend time with family and friends. The monastic lifestyle probably isn’t what God would have for most of us. Nevertheless, some regular extended time with God is vital, and I know that most of us could use a lot more of it. But it’s not easy. A thousand different concerns compete for our time, and extended time with God can feel so difficult to pursue. And yet, none of our other endeavors will have the necessary power behind them unless we’re drawing deeply from God’s well.
Will you join with me in considering how to regularly set aside longer stretches of time to simply be with our amazing God? Again, it won’t be easy. It will take difficult decisions. It will take rearranging priorities. It may take vacation time and extra investment. But it will be worth it. God will meet us, and pour his love and joy into and through our lives, the love and joy that he has experienced within himself before the foundation of the world.