There are some drinks you throw your head back and glug down heartily, and there are some drinks you just sip. Question: do you sip God?
You read your daily Bible verse *sip*.
You listen to three worship songs in the car on the way to work *sip*.
You thank God before you eat *sip*.
You go through your day, your week, your life with God in less-than-ten-minute sips.
Maybe it’s an ‘I’m too busy doing other things’ kind of sipping, the way you drink your coffee at work; a sip here and there when you’re not answering the phone or responding to emails. Busy with other things, more important things, you simply don’t have time (read: make time) to interact with God in anything more than sips.
Maybe it’s an ‘I mean well, but I get distracted’ kind of sipping, like when you make a cup of tea and then go and do something else while it’s cooling down but get so engrossed in that thing that by the time you remember your tea it’s gone cold. You sit down to pray or read your Bible, but then someone texts you, or your mind just wanders, and the moment is lost. You give up and go do something else.
Maybe it’s an ‘I’m not sure how this is going to taste’ kind of sipping, the way you’d sip a cocktail made by a six-year-old out of things they found in the kitchen cupboard. You’re afraid of what a good, long gulp of God might taste like. What if you read so much of the Bible you find something you don’t agree with, or that challenges you? What if you pray so much that God actually answers and it’s not the answer you want? What if spending more time with God turns you into some sort of weird hermit monk?
Maybe it’s an ‘I feel obliged to do this, but I don’t really want to’ kind of sipping, the way you drink your eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day when you remember about it. You know it’s good for you, so you just sort of force it down, not even trying to enjoy it, just to check it off your list.
If the time you spend with your heavenly Father is anything like those things above – if it’s distracted, or cautious, or out of obligation – I have one suggestion: STOP SIPPING.
Guys, you’re thirsty!
We all thirst for God, all the time, we’re just not very good at realising that’s what we want.
Here’s an analogy: apparently our bodies are pretty bad at distinguishing between hunger and thirst. The two needs trigger very similar reactions in the same part of our brain, which means that sometimes when we’re sitting craving a Jaffa Cake we actually just need a glass of water.
Unfortunately, we spend a lot of time miscoding our thirst for God in a similar way. We think we’re hungry for human attention and affection, or physical gratification and pleasure, or worldly success and achievement, and we chase desperately after those things. But those things are just Jaffa Cakes, and though they might take the edge off our cravings it’s gulping down a whole glass of God that will fully satisfy.
I wrote in an article a while back about how you should drink down God like you’ve got heatstroke (you can read about it here). That’s the kind of thirst we all have, that we need to try to identify in ourselves.
But God isn’t just a boring, good-for-you glass of water – God tastes amazing! The Bible says:
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 46:10.
I said before that we can be afraid of how a gulp of God will taste. What we forget is that God is Good. All the time. In every way. We don’t need to be cautious in our approach of Him. We don’t need to sip Him carefully in case He tastes bad. We should be as eager to get a taste of Him as a child is licking their lips for a can of Coke.
Right, so, sipping is totally out. What’s the alternative?
Quaff God. Linger. Spend extended time focused on nothing but drinking Him in. We are told to rest in His presence (Psalm 37:7, Psalm 23:1-3). By all means read His word, pray your prayers, sing your songs. But surround that with space. This isn’t about you filling the silence with longer and more eloquent prayers. This isn’t about a battle for how many chapters of Leviticus you can get through or whether you’re reading a text by some wise theologian; God doesn’t run a book club.
More time doesn’t mean more activity. We think we should spend five minutes in prayer because we can think of five minutes’ worth of things to say. But we should listen more than we speak. Say your five minutes of prayers, and then invite God to just sit with you. He’ll be there:
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8
It’s in our still moments with God that relationship develops. No one falls in love in 10-minute sips, we build that bond over a series of extended and intimate encounters. It is in these long, relaxed gulps that we hear from God, develop intimacy with Him, and fall more in love.
So stop squeezing God into your schedule; He’s neither a boring obligation nor a potentially unpleasant outcome. He deserves more than ten minutes of your time, and you desperately need more than ten minutes of His! Make real, quality time with God a central part of your day-to-day life. In other words, stop sipping.