My 2 ½ year old likes to “hang out” with mommy and spend meal times leisurely (very leisurely, I might add) discussing topics of toddler interest. On one particular day in the summertime, I had already moved on to the dishes when he brought up God: “mommy, I no see God,” he said, with concern. He’d been fixated on this admittedly quite confusing problem for the past week and I was beyond happy to rehash the answers. I returned to my chair for a moment.
“Bud, there are lots of things that we can’t see, but they are still there. You can’t see Grammy right now, but she’s still out there, and she loves you all the time. God is kind of like that.”
We went back and forth for perhaps 23 more seconds about this important aspect of apologetics… and he seemed satisfied. He continued: “Mommy? Steam locomotives carry freight. Speed trains carry people.”
My first reaction? I wanted to steer the conversation back to spiritual matters. Is there anything more thrilling as a parent? Plus, it beats talking about trains for the thirty-fourth time that day. This wasn’t the first time my son’s brain, ahem, jumped from God to trains so easily, so I felt prompted to stay silent for a moment.
Suddenly I marveled at the preciousness of his innocence. I realized he was onto something. He’s not yet been indoctrinated in the illusion of sacred vs. spiritual that we are so familiar with as postmodern adults. He has no shame at all in switching from theology to dump trucks or train tracks, no fear that somebody wouldn’t approve. Indeed, he has no concept that there is a real difference at all. God is good. Trains are good. Snacks are good. Puppies are good. For young children like my son, there is no difference between “spiritual time” and “regular time.” If daddy says God is always here with us, then it must be true. Is it snack time yet?
Let me preface by saying that a daily practice of quiet time, away from the chaos, is of the utmost importance. To engage in scripture and prayer with time and intention is foundational to spiritual growth and my ability to ultimately thrive and honor God in all my roles.
At the same time, if your reality is that unexpected turns of events sometimes get in the way, and if your heart ever responds to this change of plans with guilt and unease, and especially if you find yourself hungry for the Lord and frustrated by the barriers you feel, consider that as a Jesus follower, every moment is sacred. The Holy Spirit does not leave when quiet time is over, and does not condemn if quiet time doesn’t happen on one particular day. If you’re in the presence of God, as we are all the time in the presence of his spirit, then by definition you are living in sacred space. You can pray, listen, meditate over the sink of dishes or on your commute without spending precious minutes having to “get in the zone.” Ask the Holy Spirit to speak all day long, and ask Him to help you hear His voice in the midst of what is decidedly non-quiet time.
Romans 8:26-27 says: “ Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Be encouraged. He helps us in our times of weakness, and prays for us when we cannot find the words ourselves. And Jesus himself said: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17).
Moments of toddler chaos or teenage drama, moments where your eyes light up at a favorite song or you find satisfaction from a project well done, none of these moments are separate from God. In the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, they are as sacred as any other time. Join me in listening for His voice during these times as well as quiet times. Ask for help, give thanks, and stay soft. It’s all sacred.