When I was in college, I probably spent thousands of hours wasting time with my friends.What did we do? Who knows! It didn’t really matter. All that mattered was that we were wasting time…together.
But while I’m comfortable wasting time with friends, I often find it hard to waste time with Jesus. Even though Jesus called me his friend (Jn 15:15), I am more at home doing things for Jesus than simply being with Jesus. I have reading plans to get through, prayer lists to pray through, and scriptures to memorize. And after checking all these things off my lists, I close my devotion times wondering why I don’t love Jesus more. Here’s the answer:
You have to waste time with Jesus if you want to be friends with Jesus.
Meditation is the art of wasting time with Jesus. And one of the best places to waste time with Jesus is in the four gospels that give us the fullest account of his life and ministry. So in what follows I want to share four ways that have helped me waste time with Jesus.
1. Pick one passage and go deep. The goal is not to read several chapters. There is a time and place for such reading, but it’s not here. The goal is to slow down and enter into the life of Jesus. To be there with him in your imagination. To hang out, as it were, in the world of the text and just be with Jesus. And in order to do this, you need to pick just one passage.
2. Don’t worry about the main point. Oftentimes we read scripture looking for the main point or principle to pull out of the text. This is an important skill to learn if we are going to understand, apply, or teach the scriptures. But when you’re wasting time with Jesus, you sort of miss the point when you spend all your time looking for the point. How many dates have you been on with (insert your significant other) where you concluded the evening by asking what principle or point you learned from your date? I’m not suggesting we turn our brains off. I’m simply saying that it’s okay to read the text and just be with Jesus, even if you don’t understand everything. In fact, it’s preferable.
3. Put Yourself in the Story. Imagine yourself as a bystander watching Jesus heal the blind man. How does it make you feel to witness a miracle? Or imagine that you are the blind man. What is it like to hear Jesus’ voice and feel the spitty mud on your eyes, and then see for the first time? Or imagine that you are the Pharisees that Jesus lays into. The point is to use your imagination to inhabit the text so you can be around Jesus.
4. Thank Jesus for the time together. Notice I didn’t tell you to make an application list. That’s our instinctive response. What do I need to do? What do I need to change? These are important questions. But I’d like to suggest that simply being with Jesus is enough. If you spend time in the presence of Jesus, you will leave affected. Changed. Different. You won’t always know how your time with Jesus changed you. That’s okay. Just trust that it has. And knowing this, you can close your time by simply thanking Jesus for the joy of His presence.
What are other ways that have helped you have deeper communion with God?