Life is busy. We run from activity to activity. And place to place. Work fills our weeks. Sport takes up weekends. We drive around with the children. We wear busyness like a badge with pride. And we equate being busy with success. But how do we, as followers of Jesus, manage to find time to meet with God?
Some stories are so familiar. We miss details and fail to pick up on significant points. Matthew 4 has one of these stories. You know the one. After Jesus’ baptism, he heads out into the wilderness, fasts and then faces temptation. We rush so to apply what Jesus did when tempted that we miss a significant point.
Jesus was led out into the wilderness. He didn’t just think it was a good idea. Matthew is clear, the Spirit led him. And for what purpose? To meet with God. It wasn’t just a casual prayer to God. It was a full on, no holds barred encounter with God. Jesus fasted forty days. This is intense.
Richard Foster writes the following about fasting:
‘Fasting is the voluntary denial of an otherwise normal function for the sake of intense spiritual activity. Remember, there is nothing wrong with these normal functions in life; it is just that there are times when we set them aside in order to concentrate. Once we understand this, we can see the reasonableness of fasting as well as the broader dimensions to it…
‘We fast for many reasons. We fast because it reveals things that control us. We fast because it helps give us balance in life. We fast because there is an urgent need. Most important of all, we fast because God calls us to it. We have heard the kol Yahweh, the voice of the Lord, and we must obey.’
Jesus displays these last words. The Spirit calls him and he follows. Fasting is his way to meet with God. But it wasn’t easy. Following the Spirit took him away from creature comforts. A rock became his pillow, the stars his blanket. He became hungry and dirty. Jesus endured the heat of the day and the cold of the night. All in all, meeting with god was costly.
What Does This Mean For Me?
Is it any different for Jesus followers today? God desires to meet with us. The Spirit still calls us. But how we respond? To follow the Spirit doesn’t mean going ‘native’. We don’t have to fast and head out into the wilderness. But just as it was for Jesus, encountering God is costly. We need to create time and space. In our time poor society it is difficult get out the diary and cross something out. But maybe this is the cost God is asking you to pay.
So the big question is, what do you need to do to encounter God?