The following column was submitted by Stephen Hammond, a Screven County resident, former candidate for Georgia State Senate, and owner of the financial firm ‘Christian Values Investing.’

Most of us live a busy life, drinking from the fountain of endless energy, we often notice that we are so busy that we neglect our first love. I have noticed, when I am too busy it is impossible for me to have quality relationships with God or people. The truth of the matter is that God will not compete for our attention. When we allow distractions to affect our walk with Him, we will notice that He no longer seems near. He has not departed from us, but the contrary, we have separated from Him. This often happens when we neglect prayer, meditation, and the reading of His Word.

A few years ago, I got so busy that it seemed like I did not have time to read the Bible and pray. I felt like I had only enough time in my busy schedule for one of the two. So, I made the decision to pray and forgo the reading of His Word. I would justify it in my mind, thinking, I have read the Bible from cover to cover, I have put thousands of hours into bible study in the past. I have also cut out watching television (I actually had it disconnected from my home) but even with that, I still did not have enough time in my schedule to read the Bible on a daily basis like I once did in the past.

The question then arises. Am I just too busy or am I lacking in time management skills. Lastly, could it be that I’m lacking spiritual discipline? Whatever the reason, God’s desire is to be near. His desire is for us to get closer to Him. James 4:8 tells us, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Spending quality time with God, each day, also affects all other parts of your life. This is true in all your relationships. If you don’t spend time with your mate, you’re going to be disconnected. Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5). You cannot grow spiritually in your life if you’re not connected to Jesus on a regular basis.

Jesus wants us to be connected to Himself. Have you left your first love? Are you walking close enough to Him to hear his voice? Have you gotten too busy? The writer of Hebrews tells us “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22)

Living your Christian life at a distance from God is not His will for your life. Our hearts desire should be that we draw closer to God, and that we have fellowship with him. Make time out of your busy schedule to commune with God. You will be glad you did.