Many years ago, when I was working at Community of Christ in Chattanooga, Tennessee, we had a woman come in the center with her three boys, all elementary age. She had never been to the church on the corner of Glass and Chamberlain but had passed by many times. The center is located in the heart of the old part of the city that was now ravaged with poverty, drugs, and gang life. The church had a reputation for being a safe place among the violence surrounding it. This woman just felt the need to stop in and share with us.
The woman said she had made a lot of bad decisions in her life including drug use, relationships, etc. which had impacted her and her kids. While sobbing she said, "I somehow lost sight of God and today I realized I needed to make time for him starting now." She raised her wrist and had her boys do the same. On each wrist laid a watch they just purchased as a symbolic action of making time for God today and everyday moving forward. Looking at the watch was a reminder for each of them to create time for God.
After she shared we welcomed each one of them and gathered up in a circle. Each one of us gave a prayer of blessing for this family and what this new journey would be for them. They ate lunch with us, the kids played basketball and then they headed out into the world again knowing there was a place they could turn if it becomes too much.
Life can be stressful and overwhelming as we juggle the various responsibilities we have. Sometimes we lose sight of the journey God has for us. Have you lost sight of where God is taking you? When you make time for God you further your spiritual journey. How are you finding time for God in your life? What does that look like? Let's explore further what this means for each of us.
How to Make Time For God
Life is busy! There are multiple commitments and for some people they are running from one thing to the next. So how do we take time to find God in our lives with so much busyness? It seems to me that we have to be intentional about what we do and why we are doing it. It also means we have to find practical ways for us to connect with the divine.
Here are 5 practical ways to make time for God:
1. Assume God is Always With You - Thinking this way changes our perspective and our internal voice. Sometimes we put such high expectations on creating certain moments to heighten our spiritual senses that we miss the everyday divine spirit that walks with us. Incorporate your prayers, questions, and internal dialogue with God throughout the day and seek God in the actions that happen around you and the people you meet.
2. Seek Silence - Find times to be quiet and void of the noise that surrounds us. These moments of quietness are essential to focus thoughts and senses on what is really happening within us and how God is speaking into it.
3. Use Apps/ Podcasts - There are apps and podcasts out there for everything. Maybe you want one to assist with meditation or one to help focus on some new spiritual thoughts. You can also find some to help prioritize your time.
4. Make time for a Spiritual Practice - Spiritual practices are specifically designed to help us focus ourselves on our own spirituality. Check out the spiritual practices I have blogged about already and see if one might fit you. It's about finding what helps you connect with the divine more.
5. Set Yourself Up - Reminding ourselves by putting things in place gives us a greater opportunity to create moments for us to heighten our focus. This may be setting your bible on your night stand, leaving your guitar in the living room, putting a scripture next to the TV, or hanging a cross from your rear view mirror. When we intentionally set ourselves up with reminders or easier access we will be more successful.
However you chose to make time for God just to start small. Set realistic, accessible goals for yourself that creates balance in your life. Going overboard on will only cause you to burn out and become unsuccessful in reaching your goals. I wish you the best as you make time to be with the divine on your faith journey.
Happy New Year! I hope all of you have started the first few weeks with an excitement for what may come this year.
This week evaluate your priorities and how much time you are making for God in your life.
Our guest blogger this week is Mellissa Ann Myers. She is 48 years old and has been sober for almost 7 years. Mellissa works as a Case Manager for Valeo Behavioral Healthcare; the adult mental health center for Shawnee County. She loves the social work aspect of this job and being able to help clients. Mellissa is also a classic movie buff and lives in Topeka, Kansas with her husband Justin. We are so thankful to have Mellissa share her heart and story with us today about how she found God and how it changed her life.
On January 9th 2013, I was done; done with life. I was ready to end it all. I was strung out on meth and drinking every day. I had lost all hope and had nowhere to turn. I was alone, jobless and homeless. The only way I earned any money was by selling the drug I was using, but my habit always came first so I didn’t make a lot of money. What little money I did make, I used to buy liquor so I could come down, sleep for a few hours and get back to hustling.
On this particular night I was crashing in a trap house and it was disgusting, roach infested and filthy!! But, it was a roof over my head and it was so cold outside so it was better than that. I had enough dope for a few days, I was high but decided I needed to be higher because my surroundings made me sick. The roaches were everywhere and when I went to pull out my gear to make up a shot, roaches started crawling out of my bag. It was horrible. I started to cry. I hated myself for where I was at and all I wanted to do was stay numb.
Everything hurt, my body was ravaged by meth and alcohol and I was just an empty shell of the person I used to be. The tears came again and they wouldn’t stop. I became angry because the tears were clouding my eyes and I couldn’t mix my shot. I told myself I was worthless and to stop being a baby and I immediately stopped crying. I hadn’t cried for a very long time so it was very uncomfortable.
As I sat there getting ready to stick a needle in my arm, I heard a voice say, “I’m here.” Most people know meth and lack of sleep cause delusions and that is what I thought it was; it wasn’t. Those two words gave me what I needed to stop what I was doing, get on my knees and cry out to God for help. “God if that was you please hear my cry, I don’t want to die and I can’t live like this anymore please free me from this hell I am in.”
At that moment my phone rang and it was a woman I had met at an AA meeting. (A meeting I went to only to get a cup of coffee and out of the cold.) Immediately this woman told me that God put me on her heart and so she decided to call to see if I was ok. I started crying and for the first time in a long time I was able to be honest and say, “No, I am not ok, I need help and I’m ready.”
This amazing woman came to me and took me out of that hell hole and helped me find my way. When I told her about hearing what I heard she let me know that, this is how God works. At that moment I knew I had no other choice but to surrender my life and will to God if I wanted to live.
I have not faltered from His path and have remained sober for the last 6 years; almost seven. This is the longest I have ever been sober since the age of 14. God blesses me everyday with another day of sobriety and I am so grateful!!!! His blessings are endless!!! Because of God I am a better person; I live my life for Him because He gave so much for me. This is only part of my story, but for me the most important part. This is what led me to believe in God again and how I got to where I am today!
Mellissa your vulnerability is incredible! Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us. Our faiths become stronger when we are able to hear stories like yours.
This week listen to that still small voice leading you. Is there someone who needs your support right now? Go an be that support!
It's that time of year again! Yep that's right, get the popcorn out, make the hot chocolate, and start the fire as you put on a classic Christmas movie. There's not much better than watching the movies we have seen over and over again which still evoke memories and emotions connecting us to the Christmas season. Christmas movies help us remember our loved ones both past and present in our lives and focus us on the true meaning of the holiday. The movies also give us spiritual messages to incorporate in our lives.
So let's look closer at the 6 best Christmas movies and the spiritual messages we can receive from them this holiday season.
#6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Dr. Seuss)
Of course we start here! What better story than how the Grinch found love for himself and others. This realization helps us all know that ultimately its not about us this Christmas season. Selfishness and greed are very real parts of the world. We must evaluate our thoughts and motives to make sure they are what's best for the community, not just ourselves.
There is a purpose behind the holiday that brings us together as a community to sing, laugh, and give thanks. The Who's accepted the Grinch with loving arms without reservation. And so are we called to this season to be inclusive with those around us inviting them to experience the living Christ in their lives. The Grinch was able to change because this radical love that persisted over his desire for material things.
Message: Focusing on others, not yourself brings joy
#5. Miracle on 34th St.
This classic always makes the top list because of its positive, uplifting message. It makes us check our greedy thoughts at the door and reminds us there is something greater than ourselves. Faith is inextricably linked to belief. This film helps us recognize that believing can make all the difference in our lives. Believing opens our heart to possibilities and the mystery of the divine. So believe and know there is something more than meets the eye. The birth of Jesus gives us all something to believe in this season.
Message: Faith makes miracles possible
This newer Christmas classic keeps you smiling throughout the film. It evokes happiness and joy as we laugh at the goofy idea and antics of Will Ferrell's character. In todays fast paced world this movie strikes home telling us to be aware of how we are investing our time. Our focus on obligations and responsibilities pulls us away from the real things that matter in this world. Elf tells us its ok to say no as we turn our time and focus to what really matters. Figuring that out is the challenge left for you.
Message: Find what matters in life to you and hold it close
#3. The Christmas Story
"I just won a major award!" The Christmas Story is either a movie you love or hate. Either way the movie takes you through the life of a boy named Ralphie who faces many dilemmas, challenges, and situations throughout the flick. The hilarious experiences Ralphie goes through gives him an array of emotions to which he has to manage. I believe this film speaks to how there is so much to learn in life through experience. Experiences shape who we are and who we are to be. We learn and become wiser as we live through the decisions we make in life. Through all of this God is always with us. We are never separated from the divine presence.
Message: Life is to be experienced, go out and enjoy it
#2. Christmas Vacation
Clark Griswold's perfect Christmas is shredded to pieces with the unusual and unfortunate events that transpire. However in the end he recognized the gift of truly being with family or those you care about despite all else. The Christmas season is meant to be shared with others. Whether its sledding, decorating lights, or drinking eggnog this movie reminds us how important it is to spend the holidays with people. So go be with someone you care about or invite them to do something.
Message: Share the holiday season by being with others
#1. It's a Wonderful Life
The angel Clarence says to George Bailey, "Each man's life touches so many other lives, and when he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" This classic takes us on a roller coaster as we learn how a life can impact another's. George Bailey needed this experience to help him see the meaning behind his life. I hope all of us can find that meaning and purpose in our lives. Believing we have a purpose creates hope even if we don't know what it is. It helps us search spiritually to continually find where God is placing me and what God is asking me to do. We create meaning by loving others and doing what is needed in the moment. I hope this Christmas season you find meaning through your love of others.
Message: By loving others we impact their life in unforeseen ways
Merry Christmas! I pray that you all find the divine in your life this Christmas season!
This week watch your favorite Christmas Movie!
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting. They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation. They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response. They support sacramental ministries by preparing people for baptism and/or confirmation, presiding at sacramental services, and performing most sacraments. They promote community by inviting individuals, households, and families to respond to Christ’s call to discipleship. They promote justice and peacemaking by inviting people to experience all aspects of Christ’s peace through active discipleship. They create ministry partnerships with mission center officers, apostles, elders, and evangelists.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.