Chances are, one of your key laments is trying to fit things into your busy schedule. There is only so much time, and you always have more to do than you have time for. Sometimes you get discouraged, and sometimes you even beat yourself up a little.
All of this gets you nowhere. At least nowhere good.
Among people of faith the guilt factor can be even worse. You want to make time for God and for the things of God, but everything seems so out of control and overwhelming!
What can you do about this?
Jewish faith and tradition has a solution for you. It involves a fundamental mind-shift.
Give me a few minutes and I’ll give share something that just might change everything about how you look at your life, and especially your life as a person of God.
Your solution all starts with this question: Does God live within the universe? Or does the universe exist within God?
You can see that this touches on the issue of where things fit.
Keep following me. It’s going to get real personal real soon.
Our ancestors reached a conclusion with which most of us will surely agree: The universe exists in God: The universe does not contain him.
There is sufficient biblical evidence for this conclusion.
For example, in Psalm 90. which is called a Psalm of Moses, we read, ““O Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.”
In the Talmud, Rabbi Yitzchak said, “We could not know if the Holy One is the dwelling place of the world, or if the world is The dwelling place of God, until Moshe came and explained it ‘You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.”
For this reason, in Jewish thought, one of the names for God is HaMakom (The Place). He is the place of the universe.
All of this is well and good, but it seems like idle cosmological contemplation. What does this have to do with us?
If you think about the meaning of a "place" you'll agree that it is more than just a geographical location, it's a space which is capable of containing something else.
When used in reference to G-d what it means is that everything is contained within G-d (conceptually), while He is not contained in anything.
Let’s look at that again. Everything is contained within God conceptually while he is not contained in anything.
What does this mean for us? Lots of things.
Let me tell you a true story. Some years ago, a woman told me that the reason she does not come to synagogue on shabbat is that shabbat is “her sabbath.” What’s the problem here? She got things backward. Shabbat is not OUR sabbath: it is God’s sabbath. It is the day when we especially accommodate Him, fitting ourselves into His pleasure. It is a day that is especially for God. It is not about chilling but about giving God the attention he deserves. This lady was wrong. It’s OK to be wrong, as long as you don’t make a habit of it!
Our challenge is not about fitting God into our lives. It is not about making room for him. Our challenge is to be continually fitting our lives into God, his way of thinking and his will for the world, including our lives. Our challenge is to constantly be fitting our lives in their entirety into God, finding how who we are and how we think can accommodate who God is and how He thinks.
In how we think and in how we live we should always be accommodating ourselves to God, picking up the stuff of our lives and following the pillar cloud and the pillar of fire.
What might it mean for us to continually adapt ourselves to God, fitting our lives and our plans into who he is, and what pleases him, rather than trying to make room in our lives for God as if he is a guest in a life that belongs to us. No, every day and in every way our lives belong to him! We are not our ow. We are bought with a price.
Isaiah the Prophet helps us with this in the sixty-sixth chapter of his book. He gives us five pointers that give us a sense of what it means to fit our lives into God.
Here they are.
I. We do not find a place for God in our lives; we must find our place in God, fitting ourselves into who he is and where he would lead us.
“Heaven is my throne,” says Adonai,
“and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house could you build for me?
What sort of place could you devise for my rest?
2 Didn’t I myself make all these things?
This is how they all came to be,”
II. Fitting ourselves into who he is and where he would lead us means we will be people of poor and humble spirit who tremble at his word. Ever and always God’s expressed and communicated will be priority one, even our SOLE priority. This will be evident in our making distinctions others ignore.
“The kind of person on whom I look with favor
is one with a poor and humble spirit,
who trembles at my word.
3 Those others might as well kill a person as an ox,
as well break a dog’s neck as sacrifice a lamb,
as well offer pig’s blood as offer a grain offering,
as well bless an idol as burn incense.
Just as these have chosen their ways
and enjoy their disgusting practices,
4 so I will enjoy making fools of them,
and bring on them the very things they fear.
III. Fitting ourselves into who God is and where he would lead us means living in sensitized responsiveness to his will and the guidance of His Spirit. It means living ATTENTIVE lives.
“When I called, no one answered;
when I spoke, they did not hear.
Instead they did what was evil in my sight
and chose what did not please me.”
This reminds me of an unforgettable conversation with a billionaire. I was privileged to mentor the family of a Korean American billionaire, a generous philanthropist who periodically brought huge shipments of food to help the starving people in North Korea.
One day he got a call from the White House. They were expecting a visit from some South Korean dignitaries, and they invited him to come and be part of the gathering. His answer? “I will pray about it and let you know.” Here, the man was being invited to the White House, but he signaled that his life was ordered by his prior availablity to God. This was a man who was attentive to the Spirit of God, and above all, available to God’s will.
IV. Fitting ourselves into who God is and where he would lead us means we will experience the displeasure of other kinds of people.
5 Hear the word of Adonai,
you who tremble at his word:
“Your brothers, who hate you and reject you
because of my name, have said:
‘Let Adonai be glorified,
so we can see your joy.’
But they will be put to shame.”
Sometimes we deserve the displeasure of other people because we are zealots who are overbearing, weird, or intrusive zealots. This is not what Isaiah is talking about. We earn no merit badges for being weird, overbearing, and intrusive. In fact we damage God's reputation.
However, when Scripture’s values are our values, there will be times when other people will find us irritating because they since we march to a different drummer. If we are people who accommodate ourselves to God, there will be times when we experience dissonance with others who consider our beliefs or values to be ridiculous or offensive. That's life. And that's life with God.
V. Fitting ourselves into who God is and where he would lead us means living in expectation of the reward of the righteous and retribution for the wicked.
6 That uproar in the city,
that sound from the temple,
is the sound of Adonai repaying
his foes what they deserve.
7 Before going into labor, she gave birth;
before her pains came, she delivered a male child.
8 Who ever heard of such a thing?
Who has ever seen such things?
Is a country born in one day?
Is a nation brought forth all at once?
For as soon as Tziyon went into labor,
she brought forth her children.
So where does this leave us?
Here is the challenge before all of us today. To cultivate attentiveness to God, his will, his ways, his leading. To accommodate ourselves to God, and not to expect him to accommodate himself to us. What I'm calling us to is a shift in our mindset. We must learn to constantly fit ourselves into God, accommodating his character, his throughts, and his priorities every step of our way.
On a day by day basis, How shall we do this?
I have some simple suggestions.
Early in the day take twenty to thirty minutes to read in your Bible and to ask yourself three questions.
HEAD - What do I understand this text to be saying?
HEART - What is especially speaking to me from this passage?
HANDS - How can I apply this today?
Then spend a few moments asking God, “Lord? What would have me to do?”
Throughout the rest of you day, give your hands to obeying what you discovered in the Word, and keep this prayer on your lips. What would you have me to do?
FIT YOUR LIFE INTO GOD, as people who follow the Messiah who said, "I only do what I see the Father doing."
Shouldn't that be us too?
For a video presentation of this material, visit https://youtu.be/WcGf1fT0K7U