Overcoming Excuses

Devotionals from Leslie Ludy and the Set Apart Girl Team

Overcoming Excuses

by Leslie Ludy | March 24, 2014

Tozer wrote, “The man [or woman] who would know God must spend time with Him.” What a simple and profound truth  - but one that is all too easy to forget amid the busyness of our daily lives!

Most of us desire to know God more than we do. We sense our need for more of His presence and power in our daily lives. We feel an aching spiritual hunger in our souls for “something more.” And yet, we often balk at doing the one thing that would bring us closer to Him - spending time in His presence.

The Bible offers a practical solution for growing closer to God:  “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

Are we willing to do whatever it takes to draw near to our Lord? It’s not that spending a certain amount of time in prayer somehow makes us more righteous. But time in God’s presence is what gives us the spiritual fuel we need in order to live the victorious Christian life He has called me to. Time alone with God is what keeps our spiritual fire lit - it keeps our love for Him strong and thriving. 

For some reason, we don’t have much difficulty understanding this principle when it comes to cultivating earthly relationships. We know that to maintain intimacy with our spouse, we must spend purposeful time together on a regular basis. We recognize that our friendships can’t flourish if we don’t invest ourselves into those people often. We see the importance of spending quality time with our children. But when it comes to our relationship with God, we are often full of excuses. “Oh, He’ll understand. He knows it’s just not practical right now. I’ll get to prayer later.”     

Whenever I catch myself saying, “I have too much to get done today to spend time in prayer,” that’s when I know that spiritual apathy has crept in, and that I’ve allowed the cares of this world to keep me from my God.

Jesus told a poignant parable to His disciples about “making excuses” that is perhaps one of the most convicting stories in the Bible.

A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, Come, for all things are now ready. But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused. Still another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come (Luke 14:16-21).”

Our Redeemer is waiting at the banqueting table, eagerly waiting to commune with us. We have the amazing, astounding, thrilling privilege of being invited daily into the very presence of the King of all kings - to come before His throne of grace and to partake of all that He is. Yet how often do we reply, “I cannot come; I ask you to have me excused!

Oh, what a heartbreaking response. It’s as if someone is offering us a handful of priceless diamonds, and we choose a pile of worthless pebbles instead.

I often think of the story of Mary and Martha when I’m struggling to keep my spiritual priorities in check. It seemed completely impractical for Martha to stop bustling around the kitchen and sit as Jesus’ feet, as Mary was doing. She must have been thinking, “Surely Jesus understands how much work I need to get done, and how many responsibilities I have on my plate right now! Surely He knows I can’t just drop everything to spend time with Him!” And yet, Jesus told Martha, “You are worried about many things, but only one thing is needed” (Luke 10:41-42).  What was that “one thing” that Martha needed? To sit at His feet - to bask in His presence, build relationship with Him, and listen to His word. 

Martha’s serving and hospitality was not the problem. The problem was that she was attempting to do these things in her own strength, without making time with Jesus her highest priority. And as a result Martha was worried, frazzled, and “distracted with much serving” (Luke 10:40). What a perfect description of so many busy women today! When we attempt to serve our families or work hard at our tasks without the undergirding strength that comes through time with God, it quickly leads to burn-out and stress, just as it did for Martha. And the more burned-out and stressed we become, the more we try to convince ourselves that we are simply too exhausted and frenzied to fit prayer into our lives.

A busy mom of six once told me, “I’m too busy not to pray!”  Our spiritual lives would be transformed if we lived by this creed.

Sisters, let us lay aside our excuses and choose the “better part” just as Mary did - making time with our God our highest priority, even during seasons when it doesn’t seem practical to do so! We will never regret one moment spent at the feet of Jesus.