I’ve been reading Nancy Ortberg’s LOOKING FOR GOD: an unexpected journey through tattoos, tofu, and pronouns and greatly enjoying the experience. As I said on Facebook yesterday, it is a well-written and delightfully engaging look at the ways that we connect with God which are less “typical” than your standard 20th Century American QUIET TIME. I recommend it without reservation — though, as with most books, with more enthusiasm for some of you than others because it will “work” better for some than others. It works really well for me.
In the opening chapter she addresses, head on, the notion that to properly connect with God one must have a quiet time — in the morning — that is 30-minutes long and which involves Bible reading, prayer (following a prescriptive adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication model) and journaling. Nancy suggests that this is not the only way. She does not imply that this is a wrong way to connect with God — only that it does not work as well for some as it does for others and that there are other ways to connect. Her point is that relationship is not entirely prescriptive.
I’ve heard this notion before (in the book Sacred Pathways, for example) and it resonates well with me both theologically and experientially.
Her point is not that because Jesus didn’t do something, we shouldn’t do it (aka “journal”) and I’m thankful for that. There are a whole lot of things that Jesus didn’t do which I do all the time (including driving a car, listening to music recorded on an iPod, and drinking Diet Coke over ice).
One of my application points as I’m reading this book is to not get so hung up in the weeds of how I connect with God, but rather to focus on God. To actually connect with Him. Am I reading His Word and praying and yes, even journaling? Yes — but not “religiously.” I’m trying to find a way to maintain a discipline for these things that does not suck the joy and life out of the relationship.
We do this with all of the relationships in our lives that matter to us. I’ve got a lot to learn and and miles to go before I can call this one “done” — and I’m okay with that. I’m okay with that mostly because I know that I’m not going it alone. Jesus himself promised to be with me in this journey, even to the very ends of the world. Even if I’m not journaling. Even on days when all I can do is stare at the sun reflected off the lake and sigh, He is with me.