Periodically, I have to take a social break. I pull back from the public world and take refuge in the quietness of my home for a few days. It can feel like a big deal when I do it–reorienting my schedule and reminding me that I primarily serve God, and not my own desires or the people around me.

God uses this time, that I have every few months, to deliver me fresh insights and assignments that I wouldn’t be able to fully receive if my focus were not so concentrated on communing with God. These sabbaticals have recently been resulting in very practical examples of God directing my paths when I acknowledge Him. He honors my willingness to put myself before Him in a temporary adjustment of my life that I wouldn’t normally choose.

This is a matter of obedience. It is not always convenient, but it is truly something I need to do. I worry–with embarrassing regularity–that my friends will be hurt by my actions or at least severely disappointed in/by me. I have a strong inclination to “rescue” them from such a fate by doing my part to keep them satisfied in all things that in any way relate to our relationship.

But, as I write this, it is becoming clear to me that such penetrating concern is inordinate, even on the level of idolatry. If I am placing my relationship with my girlfriends above the nurturing of my relationship with God–exalting their response to my action of obedience over God’s response–than I am sinning. I am hoping that in some way, both God and my friends can be equal; that there may be no difficulty pleasing the two simultaneously.

The truth is, though, that I can’t have both. There may be times when I can enjoy harmony between the two, but this is not a long-lasting conjunction. God will inevitably shift me into a new position that will test whether my alliance is with Him solely or parceled out between Him and my other loved ones.

Indeed, this will certainly have a flustering affect on my friends and I–who suffer from an acute sensitivity to discomfort related to God-appointed adjustments–but that’s not so bad. Certainly, we need our naturally-occurring devotions to be questioned in order for us to perceive our lack of Christ-centered devotion. And there is no better place to grow stronger in understanding the agreement between us and God that needs to be formed than by taking time away from the rest of the world for a little while. Have you tried it?

 

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