Making Room for God and His Word

Several weeks ago as I was packing up to go out to the St Benedict Center for our spring silent retreat weekend, I was busy filling my briefcase with all the things that I thought I might need. A fresh notebook for journaling, a couple of books on prayer, pens and highlighters, a few reference type books, my iPad (which holds many e-books), a few files from previous retreats and some other miscellaneous items were all packed neatly away. However, when I went back later to make sure that I had packed everything that I would need, I discovered that I had not left room for my Bible. I had filled my briefcase with things that seemed important but had forgotten to leave room for that which would serve as the focal point of my weekend, the Word of God.


God would also show me over the course of the weekend that this oversight is often played out in our daily walk with Jesus as well. We express a desire to live for the will of God and to be filled with His Holy Spirit in order that we might be used of God in ministry but if we examine our lives closely we find that there is no room for God. First, there are all the activities that we choose to get involved with, some of which may even be ministry related. We choose to be busy with a great many things, such as work, family life, church functions, our children’s activities, personal recreation, vacation, travel, a variety of hobbies, socializing with friends and a host of other activities. While none of these activities is inherently sinful, we must be careful to recognize that they are, for the most part, pursuits of our own choosing. Further, we must recognize they may not represent God’s will for us and we shouldn’t automatically expect that God will bless them.


In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 the apostle Paul reminds us that our lives are not do with as we please, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” Jesus expresses the same truth in Matthew 10:38-39, “And he who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for my sake shall find it.” At the heart of all sin is our will asserting itself saying, “I know what is best for me.” When we live our lives based upon what we want to do, when we want to do it or in the way that we want to do it, we quench the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives through our sin and rebellion.


On this last retreat one of the areas of life we considered was have we fully surrendered our lives to the call of Christ the King. Have we so re-ordered our lives that we can say with Jesus that “I live only for the will of the Father” (John 5:19). The whole hearted response that Jesus is looking for is found modeled for us by Peter, James and John in Luke chapter 5. Jesus and Simon are standing on the shore of Lake Gennesaret while Jesus is teaching the crowds from the Word of God. In order to gain some relief from the crowds Jesus gets into Simon's boat and tells him to put out a little way from shore. From there Jesus sat down and taught the crowds who had gathered to hear Him.


When he was done speaking He tells Simon to "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch". Simon answers and says "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but at your bidding I will let down the nets". At first glance it appears that Simon is simply being obedient to Jesus' request, but in reality Simon is telling Jesus that they, experienced fishermen, have just spent the entire night fishing and caught nothing and now it is midday and you think you are going to catch fish? Simon's compliance is merely an act to humor Jesus.


We know from the rest of the story that upon letting down their nets they capture a great quantity of fish. So great in fact, their nets begin to break and as they begin to take the fish into their boats, the boats begin to sink. Simon Peter's response is to fall at the feet of Jesus and say, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (vs 8). Peter's confession is both accurate and immediate. His confession, as ours should be, is not a singular occurrence that happens at the beginning of his following Jesus but is a first step in his daily walk with God.


Have we made room for God? Is it a question that we answer only once or twice per year? The fullness of the Christian life is found as we make room for God every day of our lives and not just the unique occasions like a retreat weekend. Take some time today and consider how you have answered this call of God upon your life, your life will be the richer for it.