How do you develop stronger friendships with others now?
And here’s the big question: How can you develop a stronger friendship with Jesus? How is the way you approach Jesus like (or unlike) how you approach your earthly friendships?
Jesus is our Lord and Savior—of course we’re going to act a little differently around Him! But Jesus also calls us his friends (John 15:13-15), and that’s not something we should take lightly either. Jesus is going to be there for us, no matter what we’re thinking or feeling, and He wants us to be with Him, too. That’s a pretty mind-blowing concept, but it’s true.
Therefore, if we’re going to grow in a healthy relationship with Jesus, we’re going to need to spend quality time with Him. It’s hard to love—let alone follow—someone you don’t even know. A.W. Tozer put it this way, “True Christian experience must always include a genuine encounter with God. Without this, religion is but a shadow, a reflection of reality, a cheap copy of an original…The spiritual giants of old were men who at some time became acutely conscious of the real Presence of God.”
When have you been “acutely conscious” of God’s presence in your life? Think about the times you’ve encountered Jesus—during a retreat, in the midst of a crisis, or maybe even when you least expected it. Where or when do you tend to feel closest to Jesus? Why are those times or places more special? And when do you feel furthest away?
It’s not always easy to drop what we’re doing so we can have times of refreshing with Jesus. Some of us feel guilty about not giving our human obligations top priority; we may feel we’re letting others down. A lot of us feel rushed and don’t think we can get into “the right frame of mind” to “be” with Jesus. Some of us may even wonder whether we’re wasting our time by doing what, humanly speaking, is… nothing, with Jesus.
Here’s an exercise you can try…. well, now, actually: Find a clock with a second hand, and try to be still for exactly 97 seconds. Look up when you think 97 seconds have passed. Ready? Go.
Interesting, wasn’t it? So now, reflect on this:
• How hard was it for you to be still, for only a little more than a minute and a half? What kinds of things went through your head during that time? Why?
• Why do we seem to be able to do everything except be still? What is it about quiet or stillness that makes us so uncomfortable?
Now, get quiet again, but this time let’s focus directly on our relationships with Jesus. First, take 30 seconds or so to quietly reflect on the time you first drew close to Jesus. Starting now.
Let’s make sure we really capture the moment. Who was with you when that happened? Where were you? What were some of the sounds and smells? What were you thinking and feeling? Take another minute to replay that in your mind and heart.
Now, take another minute to quietly reflect on where you are right now in your relationship with Jesus. Think also about where you are in comparison to those first days, and why.
Finally, think about Jesus coming alongside you right now. What’s different from before? What’s better? And what do you miss from that first time you drew close to Jesus?
Make that last question something you reflect more about this week. Take the time to remember, and reignite, your first love.