Contributors from each of our different Bible reading notes share their personal reflections on ‘Spending time with God’. Our third article in the series is from Jane Walters, who writes for Day by Day with God.
28 January 2024
As I write this, it is completion day on my house sale – a bittersweet moment for sure. When I first viewed it, three-and-a-half years ago, I had never bought a house on my own. The responsibility felt enormous. On the plus side, I only had myself to please. But what if I made the wrong decision? After the second viewing, I felt I’d all-but made my mind up and my prayers were becoming all the more urgent. ‘Lord, is this the one? Am I making the right choice?’ Early the next morning, in that curious half-awake/half-asleep state when God often captures my attention, I heard him ask me a question: ‘Jane, will you come and live in that house with me?’ It was with absolute joy that I said, ‘Yes, please!’, adding quickly, ‘So long as you pay all the bills.’
Thus began my years of living with Jesus. Of course, you could argue that I’d begun that process over 40 years ago, when I first committed my life to him as a teenager at the Keswick Convention. Full of early zeal, I bought a hard-backed NIV – plus a special Bible paper highlighter pen – and embarked on a lifetime habit of a daily (or at least aiming-for-daily) quiet time. Spending time with God back then probably amounted to 10 minutes or so reading the Word, alongside various devotional booklets and the occasional deeper commentary. Prayer was filled with hormone-driven angst and followed by a faith-seesaw of ‘God has heard my cry’ and ‘Does God even know I exist?’ If I’m honest, those times were driven more by obedience than the compelling love of a girl for her Saviour.
I heard him ask me a question: ‘Jane, will you come and live in that house with me?’
A very special house mate
So, what was different in the ‘Me and Jesus’ house? Well, in living on my own, the concept of God’s presence became crystal clear. No longer vague theology, but living, active reality. At no point did I ever feel alone, truly. He was the one I spoke to as soon as I was awake and the one to receive my last, exhausted daily mutterings. We shared jokes, God pointing out something that was funny, just as surely as if he were there in the flesh. I worried what the neighbours might be thinking as they heard my laughter through the walls.
I sensed his constant nudges of wisdom, too. One day, I was so hard at work on the DIY that I missed lunch. By the time I sat down to rest on the sofa, I was absolutely spent. I remember thinking, ‘Oh no! I’m in real trouble here. No one to get me a drink or anything to eat and I’m too weak to see to it myself.’ At once, I had the thought of a banana. Genius! I managed to stagger to the fruit bowl and after a few minutes felt my blood sugar level rise sufficiently to be able to make something more substantial.
In living on my own, the concept of God’s presence became crystal clear. No longer vague theology, but living, active reality.
It’s been a time when I have been very aware of the three persons of the Trinity in their separate, complementary roles. I’m pausing for a moment here, contemplating which of them to highlight first. Mentioning one ahead of the others may seem that I am ranking them but, of course, that can never be so.
So I’ll start with the Holy Spirit, described for us in the Bible as Comforter and Counsellor. One of the things that is sorely missing when you live on your own is reassurance. There were multiple times in a day when I wanted to ask someone – anyone – ‘Is this okay?’ or ‘How am I doing?’ I learned to tune into the inner voice that said, ‘Well done.’ It was honestly as good as if he were truly present. As for Counsellor, well, I was all-too-keenly aware of needing godly wisdom as I recently came to packing up my copious possessions. Time was at a premium: I was getting married after all, which was the very reason for leaving. In danger of becoming too tired, too overwhelmed, I grew accustomed to hearing a ‘No, leave that one for now’ or ‘Take those things downstairs together, save your strength.’ I’m left wondering whether I could have accessed all of this years ago, if only I had stopped long enough to notice. I don’t doubt I could.
As for Father, he became even more important when a particular crisis, followed by its distressing aftermath, put earthly family relationships in jeopardy. I sensed his fatherly protection of me, day and night. What did it matter that the rug had been pulled from under me when he was holding me fast? Again, I can testify to knowing the theory regarding our adoption as children of God, but to experience him standing up for me, holding my hand, having my back, was wonderful.
There is still no substitute, in my opinion, for my daily quiet time.
A transformational presence
Jesus, precious Jesus. As I reflect, I think that it’s the presence of Jesus that has been so transformational in recent years. So many times, I’ve read the gospel accounts and wished, yearned, to have been one of the original disciples who got to spend time with him. I know that this is what was missing from my earlier years of being his follower: my ‘quiet times’ only met with the holy/religious/sacred part of him. The disciples had access to all of him: in times of fun, or sadness, or challenge, or just walking alongside him.
This is what I have found – and want, with all my heart, to continue now that season has finished – that spending time with God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is a 24/7, highs and lows, mundane and amazing, kind of experience.
That said, there is still no substitute, in my opinion, for my daily quiet time. Using published devotional notes not only enhances my understanding of God and his ways, but also carries that corporate sense of joining in with others who are doing likewise. Perhaps it’s not so far from being one of the original disciples after all.