By John L. Bechtel, Pastor, Fremont Seventh-day Adventist Church, Fremont, CA
Summary: If Jesus needed daily communion with His Father, how much more do we need time with our Heavenly Father. Satan, like a roaring lion, is looking for those he can devour. Like Jesus, we need our batteries charged daily.
One of the greatest challenges is finding enough time for that which is essential. Oswald Chambers asks a very simple question that gets to the heart of the problem: Have you ever been alone with God? He quotes Mark 4:34: When they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples. It is when we are alone with God that He is able to mold us into something He can use. The only way we can be of use to God is to let Him take us through the crooks and crannies of our own characters.--Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, January 12.
In the Bible there are many examples of the value of spending time alone with God. Enoch is described as one who walked with God (Gen 5:21-24). This walking with God resulted in such a closeness that God took him. Just what this experience was is made clear to us by Paul in Hebrews 11:5: By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. Because Enoch walked alone with God he developed a character that took him to heaven. Paul says that Enoch was pleasing to God. How do we achieve this character?
Now is the time
Some may think it was a lot easier for Enoch because he lived closer to the time of the beginning, only a few years after the creation. But remember, He lived just prior to the flood, a time when the earth was so wicked that God had to cleanse the earth of everything. That time was no more favorable to the development of Christian character than is the present time, yet we read that Enoch walked with God. Christ was as verily Enoch’s Saviour as He is our Saviour, and in His power, notwithstanding the corruption of that degenerate age, Enoch perfected a Christian character. The voice saying to us, ?He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness,’ said the same words to Enoch, assuring him that if he followed the Saviour, he would not walk in the darkness of ignorance. There never has been and never will be an age when the moral darkness will be so dense as when Enoch lived a life of irreproachable righteousness.--Ellen G White, ?Our Privilege in Christ Jesus,? Signs of the Times, October 4, 1899.
John Gill says He walked in the name and fear of God, according to his will, in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord then made known; he walked by faith in the promises of God, and in the view of the Messiah, the promised seed; he walked uprightly and sincerely, as in the sight of God; he had familiar converse, and near and intimate communion with him. The secret was his righteous character. He spent time alone with God, which influenced his daily walk and enabled him to be the witness that was needed in the evil world in which he lived. Spending time alone with God every day will help us understand ourselves in a way that would allow us to grow in God’s grace. A relationship of intimacy takes commitment. Enoch spent time alone with God when perplexed and disturbed by the wickedness of his day. He did not throw up his hands in despair; instead he went to God in prayer.
When we are alone with God, He infuses us with His grace to give us victory over sin. The spirit which Enoch, Joseph, and Daniel possessed, we may have. We may draw from the same source of strength, and realize the same power of self-control; and the same graces may shine out in our lives. By reflecting the light of Christ to all around us, we shall become the light of the world. Said Christ, ?A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.’ ?Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ A surly, fault-finding, selfish, discourteous person cannot have this sacred influence.--The Desire of Ages, p 362.
The example of Jesus
When we are alone with God, we follow the example of Jesus. And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there (Mk 1:35). In the quietness of the early morning hours Jesus spent time alone with His Father, gaining insights, strength, and encouragement for the day’s work. No other life was ever so crowded with labor and responsibility as was that of Jesus; yet how often He was found in prayer! How constant was His communion with God! Again and again in the history of His earthly life are found records such as these: ?Rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.’--Reflecting Christ, p 118. If Jesus needed daily communion with His Father, how much more do we need time with our Heavenly Father. Satan, like a roaring lion, is looking for those he can devour. Like Jesus, we need our batteries charged daily.
We spend so much of our time caring for our bodily needs: food, clothing, shelter, recreation. We need to also spend time caring for the needs of our souls. By studying, reading, meditating, and contemplating on God, His Word, and His plan of salvation we can develop our relationship with God on a daily basis. These activities are best done in our secret place of prayer, alone with God. This is walking alone with God.
The joy of abiding in Him
The world of men has forgotten the joys of silence, the peace of solitude, which is necessary, to some extent, for the fullness of human living. Not all men are called to be hermits, but all men need enough silence and solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self to be heard occasionally. When that inner voice is not heard, when man cannot attain to the spiritual peace that comes from being perfectly at one with his own true self, his life is always miserable and exhausting. For he cannot go on happily for long unless he is in contact with the springs of spiritual life.--Thomas Merton, The Silent Life, p 167.
Our need for God is best illustrated by the analogy of the vine and the branches of John 15. Jesus tells us that we must abide in Him and He in us in order for us to have a fruitful life. The nourishment we draw from Jesus must be constant lest we wither and die. If we remain attached to Jesus, drawing nourishment and strength from Him, we will be fruitful and thus glorify Him. There is no better way to abide in Christ than by contemplating His life and ministry. It will do you good, ...to frequently review the closing scenes in the life of our Redeemer. Here, beset with temptations as He was, we may all learn lessons of the utmost importance to us. It would be well to spend a thoughtful hour each day reviewing the life of Christ from the manger to Calvary. We should take it point by point and let the imagination vividly grasp each scene, especially the closing ones of His earthly life. By thus contemplating His teachings and sufferings, and the infinite sacrifice made by Him for the redemption of the race, we may strengthen our faith, quicken our love, and become more deeply imbued with the spirit , which sustained our Saviour. If we would be saved at last we must all learn the lesson of penitence and faith at the foot of the cross.... Everything noble and generous in man will respond to the contemplation of Christ upon the cross.--Testimonies for the Church, vol 4, p 374.
It is often difficult to find the time to be alone with God. There has never been an age more loquacious than ours, one more extroverted, one more concerned with surface things.... Modern man finds it difficult to pursue... that inner silence of soul which the Psalmist has in mind when he says that we should ?listen to what the Lord God will say’ (Ps. 85:8).... Modern man rarely listens to what God has to tell him. A constant stream of words poured forth from printing presses and loudspeakers...overwhelms him. Christians... have widely lost the faculty of listening to their inner voice--In Heavenly Places, p 227. While we rush from day to day, it is important to commune with God and meditate on His Word, and listen to the plans He has for us.
?For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ?plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ?and I will restore your fortunes (Jer 29:11-13).
Take time to walk alone with God every day. Listen to His voice, meditate on His Word, and pour out heartfelt prayers before His throne of mercy and grace. Become empowered to accomplish great good for our Lord.