This past year I have gotten to know Jeena Thomas, a wonderful young woman who attends the women’s Bible study at which I teach. While she is young enough to be my daughter, we have developed a special connection to each other, particularly because we have several things in common— we will both be returning to Ethiopia this summer to continue work with the orphans we met last year, and we both love Jesus and God’s Word! On several occasions she has sent me her thoughts about different passages of Scripture that we have been studying. I have loved her fresh and honest insights. She is my guest blogger this week, and what follows are some of her recent reflections that I asked her to share. They spoke to me, and I pray they challenge you as well.
There’s this friend of mine who God uses to always have hard, convicting, spiritual conversations with. Whether it’s me rambling about something I’ve recently been chewing on or her turning seemingly casual questions into heart-penetrating realizations, the Lord always uses my time with her to convict me. I saw her the other day and she was telling me about her recent travels to Cambodia and Thailand. When you visit these ancient worlds, it’s hard to not see their gloriously intricate temples made by man to remember man-inspired gods. My friend was telling me how she’s struggling with her travels to Southeast Asia because God struck and challenged her heart in a certain way. She said, “When I saw these beautifully designed structures—structures that men spent hours, days, years, lifetimes on—expressing their devotion to a false god, I wondered, what am I doing to express devotion to the real God?”
1 Corinthians 7:35 states, “This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.” Undistracted devotion. According to the Blue Letter Bible, devotion here is translated from the word “euprósedros,” which also means “sitting constantly by,” i.e. “devoted”. It’s interesting that the word for devoted is described as sitting by something or someone constantly. I can imagine that those building temples and images for false gods projected the same desire of ‘devotion’ by constantly sitting by a work that reflected their god. The catch is that they were only able to sit devotedly by a work that reflected a god—not able to sit with the god itself. Thank Jesus that this is not the reality for us believers—that we don’t have to work to experience Him, but rather we can actually just sit with Him.
Recently I read Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur. The chapter on Mary Magdalene, a woman MacArthur describes as beautifully demonstrating devotion, specifically struck me. Commenting on John 19:25-20:13, MacArthur notes: “Mary Magdalene had remained longer than any other disciple at the cross. Then she was also the first to reach His tomb at daybreak on the first day of the week. Her devotion was never more plain than in her response to His death, and that devotion was about to be rewarded in an unimaginably triumphant way… She thought she was coming to the tomb for one final expression of love to her Master—to whom she knew she owed everything” (MacArthur, 181). Mary strove to be with Jesus constantly—she longed to be with her Lord constantly. She didn’t have to necessarily do anything, but she chose to be with the real God… constantly.
And so I wonder, how often do I even desire to constantly be with my Savior in an “undistracted” way? My friend challenged me when she asked herself: “What does living my daily existence in devotion to the God I know to be true look like?” I wonder, if part of devotion is to find a way to just sit with the Lord—abide with the Lord—and, in so doing, never forget Him. What if every second I was outside and I saw the dewiness of the spring greens and purples blooming around me, I mentally sat with the Lord and didn’t forget His artistic touch and His thoughtfulness in sprouting such refreshing life? What if when I hear hard, unfair news, I abided in His hold and sovereignty, knowing that He is good and just? What if I became more intentional about longing and yearning to spend every moment I had to be with the one true God—the One I owe everything to? To be honest, I think we’re designed and created to have every thought and action be with our Savior in mind. As for me, I think it’s about time that I actually started doing so.
written by Jeena Thomas