I’ve taken a vacation in my head the last few days. I haven’t studied and I haven’t written (because the writing comes out of the studying). I sat down at my desk this morning and realized just how much of a “vacation” I took from God. I don’t even want to share this. I don’t want to admit it. I don’t want anyone to know. I’d much rather keep up the front, the façade than to be honest and admit it.
I have fear again, and what a discouraging thing that is! I have fear that I can’t come back to Him, that He won’t welcome me, that we can’t pick back up where I left off and move forward, that I’m not of use to Him until after I have suffered a while for leaving Him. Even though it’s only been a few days, it feels like longer and it feels like I’ve just abandoned Him. I don’t know how much of that feeling is from myself or from the enemy of my soul. I’m not sure of anything at the moment other than I’m not where I was and I want to get back but I’m afraid I can’t. Have you ever been there?
Pursuing God is not natural to us. Our nature is to run the opposite direction. What comes easiest is to sit and wallow in our fallen condition. I’ve experienced it before, and unfortunately I’m sure I will again. When I combine my own nature with the enemy of my soul, it can put me in a tough place to climb out of. In my head I know that all I have to do is turn to Jesus, but there is such a fear in me (that I have opened the door to) that He will stand and look at me with His arms crossed and an expression of sarcasm and scorn because I’m the one who climbed down here.
See that’s what I would do. If there was someone I’d helped to climb out of a pit, and they’d been making really good progress forward and away from it, then turned around and slipped right back into it, I’d be a touch annoyed at them.
I haven’t walked right back up to the edge of the pit He pulled me from and jumped in all the way back down to the bottom. But I have slipped down a few feet. Slipping is the worst. When you take a step and you think your footing is sure, but you find out that the ground you’re stepping on is not, sometimes you end up wondering what happened. How did I get here? One little choice, one little step, can lead you further than you intended to go.
I didn’t really have any intentions this week of taking that “vacation.” I studied and wrote as normal on Monday. Tuesday I think I was just worn out and maybe a little burnt out. So instead of sitting down at my desk as normal, I read some in my Bible on my phone downstairs on the couch. It wasn’t a bad day, not at all. I ended up spending the day with friends and it turned out pretty good. Wednesday I got up and had another blog post in my heart to write, so I wrote that. I had intentions of getting into my normal studies after that, but it didn’t happen. My laziness surfaced. Or it sucked me down, whichever. Thursday I didn’t even try. Neither did I try on Friday.
I found myself laying down in the bed last night (Friday night) thinking about how far I’d wandered away. So far that I hadn’t even listened to any praise music, highly unusual for me. I hadn’t read my Bible or studied or written about Him. I had wasted my time on worthless pursuits and mindless entertainment. But tomorrow I was coming back; it’ll be just me and You, God. We’ll sit down together and everything will be just where it was and all will be normal and right with my world.
That was a blow. I sat down this morning and found that my desires had changed. My desires had tipped more toward secular things, since that’s what I’d been feeding myself over the last few days. My want-to was still taking a nap. I found that now it’s going to take some muscle, some discipline to get back where I wanted to be. I was going to have to choose and deny. I don’t like to deny myself (that laziness again). And isn’t that just how it starts? That slide into the pit? This is what I feel like eating right now, and I’m just going to taste a little, then I’ll get right back to the healthy diet I normally eat. Uh-huh.
I know myself. I know how my brain operates, and I know what my tendencies are. I know what things to avoid, what things to embrace. I did just the opposite. The physics principle really is true: an object in motion stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest. I’ve been at “rest” and I can’t get moving again unless an external Force acts upon me.
When I sat down at my desk this morning and opened my Bible and my notebook, my first thought was that I wasn’t worthy to even try to do this now. What kind of arrogance does it take to think that you can turn your back on Someone you love for a few days and just not think about or talk to them hardly at all, then expect them to welcome you back with open arms just because you decided it was time. And see, because I’ve experienced that kind of arrogance in my life, I’ve lived with it, that’s exactly where my brain went. I know what it’s like to be the object of that kind of arrogance, and I know how I myself reacted when faced with it. It doesn’t work that way. There has to be payment. It has to be earned.
But. Everything (e v e r y t h i n g) I have studied, learned, embraced over the last year and change tells me that we can’t earn our way into God’s favor. We can’t perform for good grades or extra credit, and He doesn’t have a Teacher’s pet. Everything I’ve studied and learned tells me that God uses the willing not the well-qualified, the broken not the bright and whole. Everything I’ve studied and learned tells me that He just wants us to turn to Him, and that “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
My head tells me a lot of things right at this moment that my heart can’t feel. But I think that’s where trust comes in. That’s where faith arises. The faith that He gave me to believe in Him in the first place, He will give again to carry me through to solid ground. I am broken. I am flawed. I am not perfect and I messed up. But when He called me to Himself, He knew where I would go, what I would do. He knew that I would mess up again. And again and again.
I’m thankful that He knows me. I’m thankful that He loves me. I’m thankful that He redeems and restores what I have sullied and muddied. I’m thankful that HE is good, always. I’m thankful He is there, always. I’m thankful that He continues to call us to Himself, even when we wander away. I’m thankful for His correction, for His truth. I’m thankful for Him.
I know that it may take some work to get back to the ease of the habits He had helped me create, just as I know that those habits are really easy to slip out of. But I know that when I ask Him to be my heart’s desire, to be my delight, He will grant that request. I know that when I ask Him to forgive me for wandering, He is faithful and just and will forgive me of my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. He will not stop working in me. And He who began a good work in me is faithful and will complete it, so that on that great and glorious day, He will present me blameless to His Father with great joy. None of that is my effort. It’s all His. I praise Him for His work. I praise Him that He still reaches down when I slip and that there is no condemnation for them who are in Him. I praise Him that my sins are covered, are forgiven, and I am free from the slavery to sin. I praise Him that His righteousness covers my sins, pays my debts, and provides me with the position of child of the King. I praise His holy name for He is worthy to be praised.
I’m thankful that when I slip, He is there to catch me. The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.