by Ron Hutchcraft
I’ve worked with a lot of interesting young people over the years. Colleen stands out as one of the more memorable.
Every morning, when her classmates were still sleeping, she was at the ice rink all alone, skating for two hours before school. While others were loafing their summer away, she was in Colorado. Skating. When a tornado hit her local rink and left her injured, she fought her way back. And kept on skating.
Several years later, I was in Europe teaching. I had the TV on in the background because the Winter Olympics were on. I wasn’t paying much attention to the Dutch commentary until I suddenly heard Colleen’s name, followed by “USA.”
There she was – the local rink’s 5:00 AM wonder. Except now she was a champion on the world stage!
The whole world was watching now. But I knew how she got there. A champion was built on those thousand invisible mornings.
Just like champions on Team Jesus.
It’s not in the spotlight, not on the platform that Jesus’ winners are born. It’s in those thousand invisible mornings with Him. When no one is watching but Him.
The Puritan preacher John Owen rightly observed, “A minister may fill his pews, his Communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more.” (1)
It is ultimately all those times with Jesus where a man or woman of God finds the power, perspective, and purity that makes them great.
And yet, it is the very busyness of ministry that often spins Jesus to the edge of our schedule I know all too well how easily we get “Martha-ed.” Like Martha of old, we may have Jesus in the house, but we are “distracted by all the preparations” that have to be made. And missing what Jesus said was the “one thing that is needed”–sitting “at the Lord’s feet, listening to Him” (Luke 10:38-40).
When you miss Jesus in the middle of serving Jesus, the joy is gone. You’re cranking it out instead of it flowing. You’re stressed, edgy, frustrated, exhausted.
Serving Jesus was never meant to be this way. When Jesus called those 12 first evangelizers, He put first things first in their job description. Their number one responsibility was not preaching or meeting needs. “He appointed twelve…that they might be with Him…” (Mark 3:14). “Before you do any work for Me, be with Me.”
That “with Jesus” imperative is more than just checking the box saying, “I did my Bible study time. I had my prayer time.” No, we’re talking about the day beginning with Jesus touching our heart and us touching His. Like the Emmaus disciples, walking with Jesus until we find “our hearts burning within us while He talked with us” (Luke 24:32).
For me, that kind of intimate walk with my Master each day is fueled by three life-giving commitments.
Jesus as the reason
Ultimately, this is not time with the Bible. It’s time with Jesus, through the book He wrote. The Bible doesn’t care if I show up. The Bible doesn’t miss me. Jesus does. I’ve learned to virtually picture Jesus across from me, speaking to me the very words I’m reading. It’s about my heart feeling His heart as much as it’s about my mind learning His truth.
Horatio Bonar said it beautifully: “You must not face the day until you have faced God, nor look into the face of others until you have looked into His.” (2)
Journaling two hearts
Journaling what Jesus was saying to me through His Word was the most enriching choice I’ve ever made in my time with Him. When James likens reading God’s Word to looking in the mirror to see what needs changing, he says the blessing goes to the one who is “not forgetting what he has heard” (James 1:25). For me, that means writing it down.
Over the years, I have filled a file drawer with these records of my heart-times with Jesus. I’ve found that processing what He’s said to me in writing makes me think more deeply about it. Putting it into my own words. Recording two discoveries: 1) What did God say to me here? And, 2) What am I going to do differently today because He said it?
Which leads to . . .
A “just do it” outcome
I guess you could call it Nike faith. I’ve looked in the Bible “mirror” – now what did I see that needs changing today? An attitude? A worry? A burden that’s weighing me down? A “to do” list that’s overwhelming me? A creeping compromise in my purity or integrity? My treatment of people around me?
Joshua said we need to meditate in God’s Word “so that you may be careful to do everything written in it” (Josh. 1:8). Read to do, not just to know. Like Joshua, we should ask as we read, “What message does my Lord have for His servant?” (Josh. 5:14).
His daily information should lead to daily transformation.
As a servant and messenger of King Jesus, I must make my time with Him the highest priority of my personal schedule. Not optional. Essential. But not duty. No, it’s the natural expression of me loving the One who loves me most.
My son was 12 when we heard a message, predicting the soon return of Jesus. Afterwards, he said, “Dad, I don’t want Jesus to come back yet.” I asked why. I’ve never forgotten his answer . . .
“I want to have more devotions first. Because I want to know Him better before I see Him.”
So do I.
- Cited in “A Puritan Golden Treasury,” I. D. E. Thomas; quoted in the John MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Acts 13-28, p. 222.
- Streams in the Desert, L. B. Cowman, edited by James Reimann, p. 75.
Ron Hutchcraft (@ronhutchcraft) is an international speaker, radio host, and bestselling author. As president of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Ron and his team specialize in developing, authentic, relevant, and creative tools to reach people with the message of Jesus.