Updated: Apr 23, 2020
It was getting too dark to really see the basketball hoop, but I stayed outside practicing free throws anyway. I could tell (more or less) by the sound when the ball made it through the net and when it clanged off the rim. I had heard that the best shooters made hundreds of shots each day. I decided I wasn’t going to sleep each night until I had sunk 500 free throws. In my mind that would almost guarantee me a college scholarship, right?
Fast forward five years.
I’m sitting in the practice rooms at DePaul University’s School of Music. Jazz has replaced basketball as my main passion. Taking a break from my own playing I overhear a conversation from out in the hallway. “Man, listen to her. I wish I could play like that,” says person one. “No you don’t,” replies person two. “If you did, you’d be in your own room practicing as hard as she is instead of out here talking to me.” Ouch! I knew who “she” was and I didn’t practice that hard either.
When I was in high school I had a major crush on a girl we’ll call Lori. We had several classes together and she was a part of my extended group of friends, so we saw each other often. One day we were hanging out in the school parking lot and had “the talk.” I don’t remember if I brought it up or if she had sensed my interest, but she made it clear she just wanted to be friends. “A relationship with you seems like it would be hard work,” she said. “And I don’t think relationships should be that way.” Being a godly man of wisdom beyond my years, I tried to explain that relationships were hard work, but she wasn’t buying it.
For years my view of my relationship with God mirrored Lori’s view of relationships in general. I thought it should be easy to get to know God. I believed prayer, Bible reading, worship, should come naturally. After all, this is what we were created for, right? When I found it difficult, I was left confused and frustrated.
I blame my microwave.
My microwave will cook corn on the cob in three three minutes. A baked potato only takes 10. Eggs? Forty-five seconds. Salmon? Three minutes. Dinner no longer takes an hour to prepare. It’s quick and easy(ish). So, why is it so hard to get to know God?
But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 4:29 ESV)
I’ve learned that a better question is, “Why am I so reticent to invest in my relationship with God?” I shot free throws late into the evening because I wanted to be top tier. I invest time practicing the piano because I want to improve. I invest in books because I want to learn. Many people invest long hours and hard work in golf, woodworking, knitting, photography classes, and so on. There is nothing wrong with this, but if we’re willing to invest hours and labor in our hobbies, why aren’t we willing to invest in our God?
A slow reader can read the entire Bible in 70 hours and 40 minutes. If you read five days a week, 50 weeks out of the year, you would only have to read 17 minutes each day to read the whole Bible every year. Add 12 minutes of prayer and you’ve spent six times as much time in spiritual activity than the average Christian and still not as much as watching one sitcom. (No, it’s not a competition; I’m simply pointing out how averse we are to working at our relationship with God.)
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:1-5 ESV)
Reading the Bible isn’t easy. Actually studying it is even harder. But, it’s an investment that pays off here and for eternity. I’ve decided not to let my microwave ruin my spiritual life any longer.
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