For the last three months, I’ve been really deliberate about using my morning commute as a time of worship. I’ll pray, talk with God, sit quietly or listen to some music. It’s kind of a pre-game for the Bible study I start my day with once I get to work.
The problem is that other thoughts keep coming into this “God time.” I get distracted so easily that unless I’m really focused on God, I start thinking about Stuff Christians Like. I start thinking about the book I’m writing or my ‘to do list’ for the day ahead or friends I need to call or a million other things.
And I get really frustrated when that happens. I can’t seem to hold a thought for more than a second. I’ve perverted the truth of Bible verses that talk about taking your thoughts captive and created a soundtrack of condemnation that plays whenever I get off track with God, “Stupid brain, this is God time. Not Stuff Christians Like time or worry about work time or think about things you did with the family over the weekend time. God time. Focus Jon. Focus.” And I imagine God echoing those thoughts with His own disappointment with my ability to keep His time purely about Him.
But I few weeks ago, after a morning of feeling like I had blown the sanctity of the commute with God again, I started to think that maybe I was wrong. Maybe if I listened closely to God, He wouldn’t berate me for not being able to focus, maybe instead He would say:
“Why do you keep trying to tame the mind I gave you? Why do you keep trying to restrain the heart and soul I placed inside you? Why? Why? Why? You are practicing this weird kind of self-renewal. It’s like your heart is the ocean and you’re terrified of drowning. And instead of seeing the ocean as a beautiful, untamed place, you’re trying to control it by teaching yourself how to breathe underwater. Forget that. I want you to surf. I want you to big wave surf. Not just because it’s impossible to breathe underwater and trying will eventually kill you, but because surfing is fun.
So let your thoughts overlap. Know that I am a God of joy. Big, messy, sloppy joy. Do I have boundaries for you? Without a doubt, but they’re only there because discipline is a sign of love and I want you to experience the most joy possible. I don’t want you surfing at the beaches with all the sharks. It’s dangerous and those waves stink anyway. So let your mind wander. Stop limiting your creativity. Stop forcing me to be the God of rules and disappointment in your head.
That’s what happened this morning, isn’t it? You’ve labeled the morning commute as ‘God time’ so when you catch yourself thinking about Stuff Christians Like or work or other things, you berate yourself and say, I’m sorry God. I’m so sorry I have such a scattered mind. I hate the way my mind works. I wish it was one track.’
Well it’s not. I didn’t create you that way. I put a train yard in your head. A thousand tracks intersecting. Let me be the one to sort those out. But don’t beat yourself up for bringing other parts of your life into your ‘God time.’ I have a secret, that’s exactly what I want. I want all of your life. I love when you bring other parts in. Overlap, come to me with everything. Let me saturate your every day and your every thought.”
Ultimately, the thought I walked away from that idea with is pretty simple, “I don’t want ‘God time’ to be part of my day. I want God to be my day.” But what a rambling mix of metaphors I had to go through to get to that. Surfing and trains, and sharks and overlapping thoughts. But that’s how God made me.
I’m messy and even though you’re different than me, I bet you’re messy too. So let’s stop trying to regulate our lives for God and instead embrace what God has planned for them. As chaotic and as sloppy and as unplanned and unexplainably joyful as that might feel sometimes.