Some weeks ago I read through a book by A.W. Tozer called, “The Pursuit of God” and I was left awestruck! At the time of reading this book I had this overwhelming feeling of just not doing enough for God. Tozer explained in this book the differences of the sacred and the secular. I am going to give you an excerpt from chapter 10 and just give you my thoughts on how it changed my life.
1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
“One of the greatest hindrances to internal peace which the Christian encounters is the common habit of dividing our lives into two areas – the sacred and the secular. As these areas are conceived to exist apart from each other and to be morally and spiritually incompatible, and as we are compelled by necessities of living to be always crossing back and forth from the one to the other, our inner lives tend to break up so that we live a divided instead of unified life.” -A.W. Tozer
As you can imagine, programmed into my brain for the last 35 years, I was taught the art of the sacred and the secular. I was told things like, “You have to pray everyday.” and “Don’t spend your time foolishly wasting away in front of the television.” and then there is the direct quote from Jesus Christ himself, “You must be about The Father’s business.” All of these statements and more, while VERY TRUE, helped to shape my idea of the separation of the sacred and the secular.
The idea that I just had no other choice but to pray daily made prayer a chore to dread rather than something I did for spiritual growth. In fact, the idea it was now a daily chore to accomplish only put guilt on my life and made me feel like I was a terrible Christian if I didn’t do it. Then, I was asked to take this chore to a deeper level and not eat for a chosen amount of time further making this prayer concept something to dread. I had read that somethings only happen through prayer and fasting. “Great! Now I have to punish myself if I want to see something accomplished.” I thought to myself. Prayer, one of the most powerful weapons we have over Satan, was diminished to a chore because I thought that I had a double life. The scriptures that were supposed to set me free, only made me more bound and depressed as I saw I could NEVER align my sinful heart with the word of God.
My lack of Prayer Life wasn’t the only stumbling block the church gave me. Oh, I had others! I was told that if you were watching TV more than you were praying and reading your bible you needed to greatly examine your walk with God. Now with that implanted into my brain, I just knew all hope for me was lost. Not only was I supposed to pray daily and fast occasionally, now I’m told I need to control my TV time and make sure my prayer chores were done and add-on this daily bible reading chore as well! So, since I wanted to be a great Christian, I fasted TV for a week and decided I would bite the bullet and pray and read my bible more. That week I did without television was boring, I resented my prayer time and I got nowhere in reading the bible because I kept falling asleep while reading it. I just knew I was bound for Hell because God don’t see as a man sees, he knows my heart. Great, my heart don’t want to fulfill its Christian Duty! Everyday I told myself I would just try harder! As I spent my time at school and later in life at work, there were days just coming home and sitting down and relaxing my mind in front of the TV is all I felt like doing. Those days filled my heart with guilt and so I would grab my bible, read, and fall asleep. I would then say, “God I hope you see my heart wants to read, but my body wants sleep.” I began to walk away from guilt and turn to excuses. I knew I could never be what God was asking me to do. This is the place I spent the biggest part of my Christian Life. Always trying, but never quite making it. This life was still a pleasing one because God kept me pulled in through my pathetic offerings of love and service. Thank God he did know my heart or I would have been in trouble a long time ago.
Finally, that one Christian quote, “You must be about The Father’s business.” nailed me every time! I knew that I needed to be doing “churchy” things if I wanted a closer relationship with Christ. So I tried making myself busy with the busyness of ministry. But the busier I got just made me feel even worse because I kept feeling like I should be doing more.
Now, all of these statements that shaped my thinking were true. This is not some made up allegory I’m sharing with you, it is hard-core facts! I really thought, if I loved God, I better be getting busy and prove my love through service. I worked hard at trying to prove to God I loved him, but the days I didn’t fulfill my prayer and Bible reading obligations really made me feel like I was the worst Christian ever! Now there were times that I dug into the Bible and I prayed and seemed God’s face and those times were the most memorable ones ever. It was those times that only fueled the guilt and made me want it more.
Let me now share with you how all of this has changed and I can look back and see the foolishness in my thinking. After reading chapter 10 in this book a light has shown around me and enlightened me. I found that the same guilt I carried for God was in my family life too. There were things like playing with my daughter and long talks with my wife that were such special times that I never wanted them to end. I have times in my life I have even blown off important tasks just to share those moments with my family only to have to work twice as hard on my daily chores as a result. Those chores then became as despiteful to me as the busyness of life that was robbing me of my time with God. It became a battle for me, because if I wasn’t in prayer, reading my bible, or spending time with my family, I felt guilty. We all want to do the things that make us feel the happiest, so when life happens we feel contempt for the other things. It was getting so bad, I couldn’t even change the oil in the vehicles without great feelings of disdain. I didn’t want anything to rob my family time and my time with God.
It was then, that this idea of the sacred and the secular started to make the most sense to me. The very idea that I was leading a double life and I didn’t have too, opened my heart and set me free from the guilt. There is no division! 1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Whatever I do, I do for the glory of God! When God created the Heavens and the Earth He finished it by making Adam. Let us look at what God’s Word says about this…
4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. 6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. 7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
8 And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
…and there was not a man to till the ground. Did you see that? God made man, and placed him in the Garden to till the ground. Even before the fall in the garden, Adam had to work. God wants us to work! The amount of scripture about work is mind numbing, to think God spends much of His time talking out business and work ethics all throughout His word!
Proverbs 6:6 – 8
6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.
Life Happens!!! You get sick and spend the day in bed and don’t go to work or school, it don’t mean that you just quit school and your job. You aren’t a failure because you had to take a sick day! Same with prayer, bible reading, or family time! That business trip, or youth camp don’t mean that you don’t love your family! What if we did EVERYTHING all to the Glory of God?!! What if while on that business trip you took a few moments just to thank God for his safety in getting you there and just praising him for the opportunity to open doors to become that success in business. What if while getting that oil change we thank God we have a car to change the oil in. How about that big test you have to take, you have two choices study biology or the bible, you decide the bible has to wait and you feel guilty because God took a backseat to your test. STOP! The test will be over soon, so pray and ask God to help your study habits to increase. Pray before you open your text-book! Can you see, God wants to be involved in every area of your life?
There are times when my wife and I have romantic evenings that we wish could never end, but somehow the weekend goes by fast and back to work we go. I then long for the next weekend we have to be together. But I don’t stop loving my wife because I had to go to work! Just because I’d rather be with my wife don’t mean I have to short change my job and find disdain for it. Rather I should be grateful because it is what is providing me the financial blessings to enjoy the time we do have together. You are going to have days that feel like you are getting robbed from your prayer life and bible reading, but then there are seasons of rest where you will blow everything off and just go after God. Remember when I told you that I would neglect household chores just to spend time with my daughter? Those chores didn’t go away! They were still waiting on me to finish them when we were done playing. I maybe had to work harder later, I now remind her, that adults have responsibilities and we have to do our work so we can enjoy our play time. Funny how that principle has gotten into her heart and she will now help me with the chores so we can get to the fun times faster. What if we all looked at those chores not as a thing of dread, but as a sense of pride knowing that if we accomplish them through joy, they would get done sooner and leave us with more time for the good stuff.
Let me leave you with this one thought…
Treasure every moment you have with the people you love, make God a part of EVERY aspect of your life, and stop dreading the “work” you have to do. Just get in there, get the work done, and give God praise. All of that time you are spending in dread and postponing your work is really what is robbing you of your joy and your time doing what you love the most.
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God Bless Friends!