Stepping Back to Take a Step Up

Time Spent Listening to God Is Not Wasted

I recently returned from a week out of the office. My week away was not a vacation, missions trip, or preaching meeting. It was actually a time to get away from my daily routine of office, ministry, and work. It was a time to reflect, pray, think, read, and prepare for the future.

I have never taken time to go away and focus on planning and preparation. I suppose in the past I could not justify going away to “just” think and pray. In my mind, productivity was tied to physical activity — doing things that could be seen; things that had some form of tangible measurement. What I just did was not tangible in the sense that you can see some physical thing that was accomplished. There are, however, some things that will come out of this four-day break that will have a tangible aspect to them.

Being alone with God and being in a place where there were few distractions enabled me to focus. I was able to do some much needed reading. I read several New Testament books. I read the Bible daily for my personal devotions, but on this trip I read with eyes open to seeing what God was saying to me about the ministry of Cleveland Baptist Church. I read two other good books that inspired me to greater things at the church. I was able to think about the future and what it might hold for us. I was able to contemplate God and His work in my life and the life of this church.

Let me share a few thoughts that may be helpful to you when scheduling time to get away:

1. Our World Is Busy

It is difficult in the daily aspects of living and ministry to be quiet and still long enough for God to really deal with our hearts. Because of that, it is good to take some time to get away in a quiet place–whether for an hour, a day, or a week to hear from God.

2. Record the Thoughts God Impresses upon Your Heart

Your time alone with Him can be quickly lost when you return to normal unless you have taken time to record the thoughts.

When I returned from my time away, my assistant gave me a paper I had prepared almost ten years ago. It contained my ten year plan for the ministry. As I perused this document, I saw that the Lord had enabled me to accomplish many of the things on that list. If I had not recorded those thoughts and spent time with the Lord figuring out what He wanted, then I would not be able to sit here today thanking Him for His great grace in accomplishing some mighty tasks.

3.  Turn off Your Cell Phone

Computers, iPads, and whatever else you use to communicate with the outside world needs to be left behind. We get addicted to constantly checking social networking sites and email updates. Turn them off and give your total focus to this time alone with God.

Let me encourage you to seek the Lord. Spend time with Him. Be still and quiet long enough to hear His voice. When He speaks and impresses matters upon your heart, write them down. As the days go by it is important that we not miss what God wants! Our lives will soon be over, and we must live our lives with the end in view!

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