Last Friday, there was an ICPF retreat here in Ahmedabad themed “What makes God smile?”. It was good. Better than expected (Or should I say as expected, since God is the master of doing the unexpected!). During the retreat there was some time allotted for a question and answer session. I love those sessions. I love them because I love questions. Questions are those peculiar creatures that go Pop! in people’s heads at random times and then do Kaboom! to some false assumptions or give birth to some Eureka! moments.
So, I was listening intently to the questions and there were a few that caught my fancy. However, if I try to answer all of them in one go, this post will become a huge pile of jumbled radioactive mess that will make your brains melt at the rate of 12 grams per second! So, taking in consideration the mental heath of my readers I’m going to answer one question at a time.
So, the first question goes like this: In our daily lives we have different responsibilities. Responsibilities to our families, to our friends, to our studies, to our work and in some cases, to dogs and cats(umm… I mean, pets). Situation is just like the spelling of the word : RESPONSIBILITIES. Complicated, big and with lots of I’s into it (‘I’ have to do this.. ‘I’ have to do that..). So, in fulfilling all these different responsibilities, sometimes, we don’t have time for God. But if we drop our responsibilities, that’s no good either. So, how should one balance the two?
Look at the title of this post and say, “The title is wrong”. Do it. “The title is wrong”. It should be, God and Responsibilities. Now why do I say that? First of all, that’s how God works. All of us who are Christians believe that God has a definite purpose for our life. If he has a definite purpose and plan for our life, he will at times tell us what we need to do. And then to do those things will be our responsibility. He will never force us but only lead us. It’s our responsibility to follow.
But, is it possible that he tells us what to do only at certain times and at other times we should do as we please because God hasn’t told us anything specific to do? No. God’s plans are way too intricate to be left up to chance. And he never leaves them to chance. He is constantly watching from the shadows and shaping us as we are going about our daily duties. And for him to shape us as we are going about our daily duties, he must use the things that we do daily.
A thing about our nature is, an action, an activity or an event will not have a significant impact on our lives unless it happens daily. To be healthy, one must exercise everyday, not once in a year. Now, there are exceptions to this rule but these exceptions most of the times are disruptive and abnormal. I mean, if someone close to us dies, it will have a significant impact on our lives bit it’s not everyday that this happens. It’s outside of the domain of what we call normal.
So, only the things that we do daily has significant impact on our lives. And God uses this simple principle to shape our character. He is constantly at work on us and he is constantly testing us if we are ready for the next phase of our development. We might or might not plan our days, but God certainly does. And his way of planning our day is assigning us responsibilities. He constantly watches us how we handle these and by using these responsibilities he slowly shapes our character.
So, that’s how I understand the relationship between God and our responsibilities. But, there is another aspect to this topic that must be addressed. And, because this aspect exists, the title isn’t totally wrong. Think. What would make a person to ask such a question? For the questioner, there are so many responsibilities that he/she doesn’t have time for God. The person truly feels that he/she should spend more time with God and is feeling guilty about it. But if the responsibilities are also assigned by God, then it would be like going into the temple of God when he has clearly told us to do something else. It would be disobedience. It would be hypocrisy.
There we have a dilemma. If one does follow through all the responsibilities, the responsibilities eat up all the time that one has and there is no time left for God. But if one cuts on the responsibilities, he/she is indirectly disobeying God. However difficult the problem looks on the surface, it is not as difficult as it looks. It can be addressed with one simple but profound truth.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (ESV) – 1 Corinthians 10:31
This particular verse has been like an eye opener for me. For in it lies the definition of worship. Most people think of worship as what we do in church. Singing songs. But bible talks about worship in spirit and truth. Not in songs and tunes. And, the last part of this verse says, “Whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.” So, the definition of worship becomes, “Worship is anything that we do for the glory of God.” Now, it may look on the surface that this definition is inclusive of every action but it is not so. One can certainly give his parents a glass of water for the glory of God but one can not lie to his brother for the glory of God. So, one must examine what he/she does before doing it.
So, how does this new perspective about worship help us in our current dilemma? Well, it helps us because it makes possible for us to be constantly in touch with God. There is simply no reason that you can’t go about attending to your responsibilities and worship God both at the same time. Certainly, some time does need to be kept aside for studying of his word and prayer. But this time will be like the topping of a cake. Because at that time, you will not come to God asking for his presence, you will be in his presence throughout the day worshiping him through the things that you do throughout the day. Now, instead of little or no time for God, one would have the whole day with God.
There are also a few more things that I would like to say but this post is long enough as it is. So, I’d explore this idea of worship and staying with God throughout the day in some other post. I have also put forth the same idea of worship in an earlier post A life of Worhsip in much more detail. I’d also recommend reading this excellent book for pointers on how one can be with God throughout the day: Practice of Presence of God – The Best Rule of Holy Life.