A Group of People

“What time is it, really?”

In books, Christianity, church, community, direction, faith, hospitality, life, love, prayer, purpose, selfish, selfless, Tozer on February 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm

By @briandoell

“If God gives you a watch, are you honoring Him more by asking Him what time it is or by simply consulting the watch?” – A.W. Tozer

I love this quote. I like the way Tozer thinks, anyway, but this quote in particular strikes a chord deep inside me. Tozer’s reflecting on the idea that God gives us the tools, gives us the ability, to do the things He asks us to do. The problem for many of us is that we don’t recognize that He’s done so, and so we continue to ask God for clarity on something He’s already made crystal clear. This is particularly true, I think, when it comes to the whole process of figuring out what God wants us to spend our time doing, whether right now or in the future.

Jon Acuff brought this up in his book “Stuff Christians Like“, (which I highly recommend) In it, he talks about someone being asked to stick around for a few minutes after a church service and help stack chairs. The person being asked then responds with “I’ll pray about it.” Pretty spiritual response, isn’t it? I mean, it’s hard to argue with. Who could take issue with someone wanting to submit everything they do to God in prayer? The problem is, as Acuff points out, it’s just stacking chairs, and someone needs your help.

Do we really think Jesus is going to say no? Can you picture Him saying “Sorry, pal, I know this person needs your help, and I know this would just take a few minutes, but I really think you’d be better off doing something else.

The future of your relationship with God depends on this; why don’t you go dig into something a little more obviously spiritual, and let this guy fend for himself? He probably didn’t plan ahead enough, anyway.” Or “That’s not your spiritual gift…Your gift is something entirely different, so I think your time is better spent doing that. I’ve shaped someone else specifically to stack chairs – Let them do it.”

Kind of ridiculous, isn’t it? Yet, as Tozer points out, there are times when the choice is obvious, and yet we allow ourselves to fall prey to this very thing. I think I’m safe in saying that when someone truly needs your help, you’re not being disobedient to God by lending a hand.

On the contrary, the book of Philippians makes the statement that we’re to consider others more important than ourselves. In Tozer terms, the watch says it’s time to pitch in and make a difference for someone by investing in them – It’s entirely too easy to “over-spiritualize” this, and let opportunity after opportunity fly by to translate love into action, while we pursue whether or not God wants us to do this.

I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t commit major decisions to God in prayer; not at all. But we do know that we’re called to love, and that God doesn’t call us to be all about ourselves. In fact, He specifically calls us to NOT be all about ourselves.

Who needs your help right now? When what you want collides with what someone in your life needs, what wins?

Uncomfortable though this may to hear (and it’s certainly a sobering thought for me, given how much I like NOT having to sacrifice), God’s direction for my life and yours is not at odds with serving the people around us. That IS God’s direction for us.

I pray that we (and certainly I) understand this more and more, and that more importantly, understanding translates into action. I think that just might change the world.


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