Tullian speaks to the need to prioritize extended time alone with God:
Here is one firm lesson God has reminded me of today: work on Tullian first and foremost and God will take care of the rest.
I don’t do anyone in my life any good if I don’t put my pursuit of God first. Sounds kind of selfish, doesn’t it? Let me give you an illustration.
When I was a kid I used to get so offended by the stewardess on an airplane instructing parents that in case of an emergency they need to place the oxygen mask on their own face first before they place it on the face of their child. How self serving, I thought. “A good parent would put their child’s needs before theirs.” And then one day I realized, “A parent who is not breathing is no help to the child who needs him/her.” In this case, the most loving thing a parent could do for their child is to put the oxygen mask on their own face first.
The fact is, my greatest contribution to God’s Kingdom is not a good sermon or a growing church or the writing of books. My greatest contribution is a holy life. A life lived loving God, fighting sin, serving others, and in a thousand dfferent ways, dying to myself. When Tullian works on Tullian first and foremost, I become, by God’s grace, a useable man. Every effort I put forth before my effort to “work out my salvation with fear and trembling” becomes an effort without the fueling energy of God. And any effort without the fueling energy of God becomes, ultimately, an ineffective effort. The Scottish preacher Eric Alexander once said in my hearing, “God must first do a mighty work in a man before he does a mighty work through a man.” This is true for all of us. Husbands, when you work on you before you work on your wife, you become an agent of transformation for your wife. Wives, when you work on you before you work on your husbands, you become a woman who can now be used by God to change your husband.
Perhaps C.S. Lewis put it best when he said, “When I have learned to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.” Yes. That’s it. Not only as it concerns our husbands and wives and closest friends and family members, but as it concerns all of life. I needed to learn that once again. We all do.
Well said. I needed this reminder.
Question for you: When, how, and where do you spend extended times alone with God? Share your practices with the rest of us. Perhaps you’ll spark some good ideas that we can use.
As for me, I try to take advantage of a monthly 36-hour silence and solitude retreat that is offered to local pastors and ministry leaders by a spiritual director friend of mine. I don’t get to go every month, but I find it to be something I need to do regularly, if not monthly.