I feel like I haven’t been walking with God very well this break. It's hard to note why or how… Well actually, I could give you a lot of excuses why and how, but in reality, my heart is not open to God. My heart wanders as I fear and slowly churns anxieties in my mind. My heart drifts as I focus on myself and my eyes stay fixed on the circumstances encompassing me. My heart numbs as I try to get through the day, through hurts and anger, through confusion and disappointment.
In these moments I feel a disconnect in my soul between what I know to be the gospel reality and the self-focused, narrow, and false reality that I live out of. One of my favorite authors at the moment, Ann Voskamp, puts it like this, “If I’m ruthlessly honest, I may have said yes to God, yes to Christianity, but really, I have lived the no.” I have lived the no. “No God, you are not in this.” “No God, you do not have a plan.” “No God, you do not love me.” I have lived the no this week.
Are you living in the no too? Whenever I get in pits like this, I come to recognize that I am living out of the scarcity that comes from a cheap gospel, a shallow understanding of who God is, and a lack of real joy. As I live the no, I am the worst version of myself, but probably the truer flesh of me. I am one of little faith.
D. A. Carson puts it like this: “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” … Shoot.
My heart is prone to wander. I’m guessing yours is too. We are people of little faith. As I read through Deuteronomy I am reminded that I am just another one of God’s wandering people. God’s chosen people, Israel, were steady in their faithlessness. It seems that God’s chosen people have been wandering from Him since the beginning. What’s interesting is that God drove Israel to wander for 40 years in the wilderness. God did this with incredible purpose. In the wilderness His steadfast faithfulness and amazing grace abounded all the more.
He provides their daily sustenance (manna), shows them the way to live (the ten commandments), and provides victory for them, leading the way to the promised land. It is in the wilderness that God brings His people through the process of truly knowing Him.
As I write this, I am reminded that God wants to meet me in my self-produced wilderness and draw me to the promised land of His relationship and covenant with me. Should this make us feel better for being in the pit? Should it make us strive more or continue on in our faithlessness? By no means! It should make us realize the truth, the truth of the joy and incredible grace we have in Jesus. It should make us cherish the gospel in all that it is. I have not been cherishing the gospel… what sin… but even more so, how much does that grieve God.
God has so much for us each and every day. Its incredible that Holiness died for intimacy with us, that Jesus died to enter into our lives, that God cares more about our moments than we could ever dare hope. We love because He first loved us. Do we realize how much God cherishes us? How much He is working in our lives everyday? How He works out the impossible and chooses to delight and work in our lives? Do I even have the heart of flesh to feel and the eyes open to see all this to be true?
In the wilderness God expresses His love for us.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
“And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.” Hosea 2:14-20
My prayer for this new day and as I enter into this new year is that I would have the eyes to see what God is doing, the heart tender to Him, and the ears open to hear what He wants to speak to me, even in the wilderness. This post, though rambled and messy, is me preaching the gospel to myself yet again. This is what I am called to do everyday. I desire not to drift but to put in the grace-driven effort to see God, to experience the joy of His presence, and to live off His daily bread. To do anything less is to miss out on the amazing love of our Husband, our Lord, our greatest Love. Beloved, do not miss what God has for you today.