During my eight years as a business education teacher I trained students to succeed in their careers. They graduated to become accountants, administrative assistants, or other office employees. Decades later, I still run into former students who tell me what a blessing their typing and office skills have been to their personal and professional lives.
A few years ago, a woman approached me at a church function and thanked me for inviting her to join the yearbook staff when she was a high school sophomore. She said she would not have had the courage to join had I not encouraged her. And she so enjoyed the experience.
Time and trust
To help students succeed, I taught them concepts and methods. I marked papers with red ink to indicate mistakes. I did that not to hurt them but to help them develop as competent adults who could go out and earn a living.
But to get to that place, they had to spend time with me learning to trust what I said and growing in knowledge and maturity. It was the same for Jesus’ disciples. And it’s the same for us if we want to grow in the faith.
When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God, he had received a revelation from God: Just as Old Testament sacrifices covered the sins of the people of that day, so Jesus would give His life as a sacrifice to cover the sins of all people for eternity.
John compared Him to the Passover lamb. Its blood saved the lives of firstborn Hebrew sons when the angel of death passed over them before the Exodus (Exodus 12:13).
Time with the Teacher
When Jesus asked two disciples what they wanted, John says they addressed Him as Rabbi, “which means teacher” (John 1:38) and asked where He was staying.
In those days, the disciples of rabbis spent time with them to learn the concepts and doctrines of the faith and to watch the rabbi’s faith in everyday action. Jesus invited these disciples to “come and see.” In essence, “Come and spend time with Me. Watch what I do. Get to know Me and learn from My teaching.” Jesus invites us to do the same.
I know my family members better than I know anyone else because I spend time with them. Then there are my friends, some of whom I know better than others because we spend more time together. There is no getting around it. To know Jesus well, I must spend time with Him. I must “come and see.”
So I spend time each morning at His feet. I begin by praising God for His creation, praising Jesus for my salvation, for being that sacrificial Lamb for my sins. Then I praise and thank the Holy Spirit for being my inspiration and drawing me to God. I confess any wrongs I’ve committed before I go on with my prayers.
As I pointed out mistakes to my students in years gone by, so Jesus’ Spirit points out mistakes in my life: Being stingy. Holding grudges. Harboring an unforgiving spirit. Making snide remarks. Using inappropriate language.
He does this not to hurt me but to help me overcome weaknesses, develop a better, more enjoyable, more satisfying lifestyle. He does this because He loves me.
Talking to Jesus
As we spend time together, I talk to Jesus about what’s on my mind. I pray out loud, or at least in a whisper to keep my mind focused.
I pray for my family’s well-being, our health and welfare. I tell the Lord about troubles my friends are going through and ask Him to help missionaries, government officials, and those experiencing disasters. I also thank Him for His grace to me every day. And I praise Him.
Listening and singing
Then I listen. At least I want to. Unfortunately, I need to improve in this area. I am far too likely to prattle on about my concerns than to listen to His concerns for me and my loved ones. But I try to listen for the voice of God’s Spirit talking to my spirit. Just this morning He inspired me to be generous in a gift to my church.
I often close my time with God by singing a hymn. In their book Praying: Finding Our Way Through Duty to Delight J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom say that early Methodists used a hymn book along with their Bible when they prayed privately (p. 287). Singing to God always lifts my spirits, and I leave my devotional time strengthened and encouraged.
Occasionally I pray Paul’s prayers, such as that in Philippians 1:9-11. If I don’t know exactly how to pray for a need, praying for someone’s spiritual development is always appropriate.
Walking and talking
After my morning time, I continue to walk and talk with my Lord throughout the day. At least I want to. I have a one-track mind and can’t keep Him at the forefront of my thoughts as I cook and write or do paperwork.
Even then, His Spirit nudges me if I go off track, if I am tempted in some way. He quickly jabs me if I snap at my husband. Jesus is faithful to me even when I forget about Him.
Promise of the Spirit
Jesus drew His disciples to Himself to prepare them for service (Mark 3:14). They appreciated His presence so much that when He spoke of leaving them to go to His Father, they were puzzled and probably couldn’t imagine doing ministry without His direction.
But Jesus assured them He would send the Holy Spirit to support them (John 14-15). He says the same to us.
Our pastor recently challenged us to “waste time with Jesus.” We may feel time spent in prayer is not productive. Like busy Martha, we’d rather be doing, doing, doing. But our time with Jesus may be the most important part of our day as He patterns our lifestyles to keep in tune with Him.
Jesus is our Teacher. As I taught my students skills and, I hope, integrity of character, Jesus teaches us how to live as Christians. It’s a lifelong process, but He accepts us as students no matter our age, stage, or condition.
Some of us feel like failures. Others carry regrets. Our Lord knows all and loves all — every single person who comes to see.