It’s through time that a relationship grows. And it’s with patience and persistence that intimacy deepens. Our relationships with God are no different. But do we value the means by which it has to happen?
Ours is a culture marred by productivity. We move from one thing to the next. We’re exhausted and yet we keep doing it almost breathlessly. It’s our condition. We pack our days with this thing to do here and that place to go there. Some of us find pleasure in crossing things off our “To-Do” lists—either the one now programmed into our phone’s software, or the one conveniently available to us at the store, beautifully designed to inspire or reflect who we are.
Productivity is how we measure success. The person who is not productive doesn’t get much in life and doesn’t get anywhere; the person who is productive reaps the rewards.
It becomes the most evident, I think, in work. The by-product of success from the willingness to be spinning the wheel of productivity is money. For some of us money’s the end goal, but for others it’s what money enables us to do that we’re after. It’s that trip to France we’ve been wanting to take; it’s that new car; it’s that first home and the things to fill it; it’s that constant urge to eat at all the new restaurants in town everyone’s talking about. Whatever our vision is of the good life is what we funnel our productivity toward.
Everything else gets shoved into the margins of our lives. Our margins are, well, just that—that space in between what’s really valued and the edge of not valuing it at all. They’re the things on the bench that didn’t make the starting line up. Only when things start falling apart or we’re exhausted do we pull from it. Things like regular exercise, healthy eating habits, taking vacations. Our time spent with God finds itself there, too.
There is something to me that is all at once terrifying and comforting to know I’m fully seen and known by God. When I consider, though, what it might be like to open myself up to this God, to attempt to know him and allow myself to be known by him through disciplines like prayer or Scripture reading or fasting, usually the last thing I think about is productivity.
Countless things rush to my mind in the morning when I wake. I stack my thoughts to figure out how to get it all done and stay ahead. Make coffee; take out the dog; get ready for work; make it to work on time; get all of my work done, in the way it needs to be done, in the time it needs to be done. These are the things—the tangibles—that mark a productive day.
Still, if I have accepted there is a God who has revealed and given himself to us in Jesus, and to follow this Jesus means partaking in the counter-cultural revolution of redemption and renewal, of a completely new way of life and of being human, then I’m led to believe the way in which we get to know God must also look different.
At it’s most basic level, I think it means reaching into your margins, your “everything else” pile, and planting a stake with a flag on it in the middle of all that’s important in your life. The world will tell us the pursuit of God is foolish and list the reasons why. Sometimes, we even start to feel the same. But isn’t that part of the mystery of our faith? The foolishness of everything outside of God is wisdom within him.
The pursuit of God means being a rock beaten against by a rushing current. The strain on your endurance to withstand the odd glances, and the blank stares, and the voices within that try to direct your attention elsewhere is to be expected.
How we grow with God is often determined by our perspective on life in general and what’s truly productive in particular. To do this is to change out the lens through which we view reality. What popular culture gives you is a lens just correct enough to get you around, albeit being the wrong prescription. God offers to exchange that lens in place of one that brings everything into focus . . . and then some.