The Daily Trudge3:49 AM
That was the year I felt 100% sure it would last forever.
Let me be blunt: it didn't. The euphoria didn't last. Why? Well, sin, for one thing. Sin and selfishness and miscommunication caused a huge rift in that close-knit group of God-seekers. Priorities, for another. School and friends tugged at my time. The aching for sleep replaced my aching for God's presence. And another thing -- God worked in my life in a way that hurt me deeply and brought huge sins and fears to the surface. Much changed, and it needed to happen, but it shook me to the core. He had to teach me the basics of faith, love and grace all over again. I'm still learning.
So in one way, I feel back to square one: struggling to squeeze in devotions and think of something to pray about. It's easier to ignore God, put Him on the backburner. I'm dealing with many things I thought I got over long ago. Once again, I'm back to praying this prayer: I want to want You.
But even though I'm not riding the clouds of exultation, I don't feel like I tumbled down the hill only to untangle myself at the starting line all over again. True, today I failed at many things -- failed at loving others, failed at loving God, failed just miserably. Lately I feel the sting of what a wretch I am and how faithless my inclination is.
I'm really not a faithful person. I neglect things. I refuse to take up things. I back out of things. I stop loving people I ought. I'm not a very good friend. And when it comes to serving God Almighty, I'm straggling behind everybody else.
Coming off the euphoria, I saw myself for what I am: I am not a super-Christian who carves away whole hours to worship and serve. This life I live -- I still live in the world, a fast-paced world of papers, people problems and hopefully a nap or two. I have real emotional, physical and spiritual needs that I'm not qualified to handle all on my own. In other words, I'm normal, not super spiritual.
This brought on unbelievable frustration when God first revealed this to me. Fantastic -- I'll never move out of this rut again. I'm just a faithless drop-out who gets herself tangled into sticky situations. I'll slave away and never move forward because I am not that kind of person -- that faithful, spiritual person. And I want to be, with everything in me.
Paul warned people like me, after all. He said, "If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us." That just about kills me. I can't crucify my flesh, so life's out for me. I can't endure consistently, so forget about reigning. And cue the rooster crow -- I'm sure my life has denied the Savior's power and presence three times in the past five minutes. This struggle to be faithful, to endure when I'm sick or emotional or bored or sin-trapped -- oh, I hate this struggle.
And then Paul says this: "If we are faithless, he remains faithful -- for he cannot deny himself."
Well, that's me all over: faithless. I'm faithless, and He's -- faithful? I can't wrap my brain around this paradox: run for all your worth, endure, be faithful, don't give up -- yet no matter how much we fail, He is faithful.
This gives me new perspective for this semester, for my life in general. I felt like quitting after realizing faithfulness is not in my DNA. What's the point of striving for something at which I'm going to fail miserably? But if He is faithful -- then what have I got to lose? There's no way I can lose -- faithless or faithful, He will prevail, if I just keep plugging away at this faithfulness thing.
It gives me a new perspective on devotions and spiritual growth, too. Sometimes it seems like I'm not going anywhere, and then all of sudden God opens my eyes and I gasp at how far I went. Sometimes I feel absolutely nothing, yet I dutifully meditate on His Word or pray and -- still nothing happens. Until I look back. A couple times I felt compelled to pray for certain people for no particular reason -- to pray for them not once, but consistently (well, as consistently as consistency goes for me). I ended up having fantastic conversations with those people that needed to take place for both our good. I didn't know that. I didn't feel spiritual or empowered or excited when I prayed those prayers -- but boy, did I run around grinning when I found out what God did with those prayers.
I guess, to get to the point, that each time we step out in obedience and faithfulness, we enter into an opportunity. Perhaps we cry or feel spiritual or experience God in a way we never have before. Perhaps God seems quiet or His Word slightly unimportant or our prayers particularly ineffective. No matter. Our spirituality isn't judged by euphoria -- it's judge by faithfulness, both His and ours. He honors every time we humble ourselves and obey. They don't go unnoticed. That passage you read today that seemed totally inapplicable and unexciting to your current life? You may need that passage a couple weeks later. That prayer you've been praying with no results? Results may be just around the corner. That fifteen minute quiet time that seemed deader than a doornail? That one time may be encouraging you to keep at it until you reach one day where all heaven opens and angels descend and -- you get the point.
God reveals Himself in ways and at times He deems best. I? I just obey. I just try to be faithful. I strive -- and I pray, I know, I believe that He "turn[s] my striving into works of grace."