At the beginning of 2016, our local Target store closed. I was surprised at how quickly the entire property assumed an air of neglect. By late spring, the landscaping was overgrown, parking lot cracks sprouted unsightly weeds, and trash accumulated along the sidewalk. Although I know these changes happened gradually, it didn’t seem that way. It felt as though one day everything looked just fine, and the next it looked sad, run down, forgotten.
I imagine I can be much like this closed store. My heart needs daily time in God’s Word. Without it, I quickly see signs of neglect sprouting up in my life. Seeds of doubt and worry take root. They break through into my heart where they begin to grow. They push my Savior out of the way, and rearrange my priorities. Worldly philosophies blow in and settle in the recesses of my mind. I begin to question that which is true and absolute. I become confused about right and wrong. I wonder what direction to go in life. I feel hallowed out and empty, and I wonder: How did this happen all of the sudden? When did fear replace faith, and thus despair replace joy?
Maybe this has never happened to you. But I find myself sliding into the same old patterns time and again. I’ve even blogged about it before, and I still fail to stop myself from unintentionally sewing seeds of neglect in my life. These changes are gradual, too. One day I skip devotion or prayer time because I’m too tired or too busy. Another day, I might pray but while my lips speak to my God, my mind runs through the To Do list, and when the prayer is over I have no recollection of it. These gradual changes eventually lead to a neglected spiritual life filled with weeds of discontent and trouble.
This is why daily use of the Word is essential. It’s the one habit I can’t afford to give up. When Jesus told the parable of the Sower and the Seed (Luke 8), He taught us that sometimes it’s the concerns of this life that choke out our use of the Word and can ultimately lead to spiritual death. I used to think He was speaking of ungodly concerns or bad habits. But what He actually says is there are those who are “choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of this life.” He doesn’t say they are sinful cares, only that they choke out His Word. Of this I am most definitely guilty.
Every evening when our family sits down for prayers, the last song we sing is a blessing. The words are: Lord, bless and keep Thou me as Thine. Lord, make Thy face upon me shine. Lord, lift Thy countenance on me; And give me peace, sweet peace, from Thee. Sadly, there are many nights I sing on auto pilot, not thinking and not registering what this blessing means for me. Other nights, thankfully, are different. Those are the times I sing and marvel that I can directly ask the Creator of the world to look favorably upon me. I feel God’s peace settle over me, surround me and fill me. And I wonder why I am so foolish as to let anyone or anything else take precedence in my life and heart.
May our loving Father give us grace and mercy to always make time for Him and to gladly abide in His Word. And if we are to neglect anything, may it be only those things that pull us away from Him.