Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My life in a nutshell

I was thinking about the things of God one day, and about my life. As I pondered it all, I tried to fix a picture in my mind of what my life had been so far and what it might become in later days. I often felt as if I was not making any progress – as if, instead of being part of God’s great story, and being out on some quest or adventure, I was just sitting around, being comfortable. Or not really comfortable, actually. I think it was more like I was afraid that I didn’t know enough, or that I would never be ready for that great quest, when the time came to embark.

I tried to do so many things for God. Tried so hard to fix up my life, in order to honor Him and thank Him for the Great Sacrifice He made for me. I was afraid to step out on some great adventure and find out that I wasn’t fully prepared. I had tried a few times to step out – to tell people about the God I had come to know, and to try to convince them that they needed Him… but I only ever did it because I knew I was supposed to, not because my heart ached for them. It wasn’t a love for people that drove me to tell them about God. It was more a sense of duty. God had done so much for me, and I just wanted to live for Him and do what He wanted.

But it wasn’t real. My desire to love and serve God was, but my attempts were shallow and half-hearted. Empty, even. I was trying, but I was failing miserably.
I was willing to do almost anything for Him, or so I thought. But whenever His Spirit would stir in my heart and nudge me in a certain direction, I would balk. “You want me to kneel? Right here, with all these people standing around me? I’ll draw attention to myself, I can’t do that. I’m too scared.” “You want me to ask my neighbors if they’ve heard of you? You want me to go and talk to them and love them? God, I can’t. I’m too shy. What if they don’t like me? What if they reject me because I bear your name?” Even though on my own I was proud to be a Christian, in front of non-believers, and sometimes even other believers, my pride in Christ would vanish like a wisp of smoke. There was no strength to it. No anchor. No rock-hard foundation. It was just vapor.

I guess I was like the seed planted in the rocky soil. I had no root. Just a temporary sense of excitement and passion that would soon fade away, then rise up again, and then fade. Except it never faded completely. I was like a plant that just kept dying and coming back. I needed to be moved into some good soil.

As the years went by, I struggled along on my walk with Christ, often feeling frustrated with myself for my lack of growth. Sure, I changed over the years, but not nearly at the rate that I thought I should. This was no adventure in God. This was just me, failing over and over again to get it right. This was me, truly wanting to do good and constantly doing evil instead. Slipping up. Saying stupid things. Not loving my neighbors. Failing.

I never had a mentor in Christ. I had teachers, but no one that I considered to be a mentor. I think I needed someone to really lead me along, and be a second pair of much-wiser-than-mine eyes to watch what I was doing and point out where I needed to allow God to change me. I was trying to change myself, and even though I managed a few improvements on my character, none of them seemed to stick. The moment I stopped thinking about it, I would falter again.

At least I was trying, I guess. But that’s not much consolation when you’re still failing. I tried to keep my focus on God and to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength… but every time I turned around, I was distracted by something, and I forgot my commitment to the Lord in a heartbeat.

Why couldn’t I just be good? I had Christ in me, had access to the power of the Spirit of God… but I couldn’t bring myself to tap into it. Instead of standing under the waterfall of God’s love, and letting my cup be filled to overflowing, I would run to the spring at the base of the waterfall, dip my cup in, smile, and then run back off again. When I tried to use the water to accomplish things for God, I ran out very quickly, and my attempts always withered when the heat came.

At one point, I turned from God altogether. It wasn’t something I did on purpose, or something that I wanted to do at all. It just happened. I thought I was still loving God, but the truth was that I was completely empty. It was like a mirage, where you think you see water, but it’s not really there. If I had been loving God, I would have been seeking after Him with all of my heart. I would not have been ignoring wise counsel. And I would have listened to the Spirit’s convictions. But I didn’t. I convinced myself that the counsel was wrong, and that the Spirit’s convictions were my own misguided feelings.

In short, I fell. And God let me fall. But if He hadn’t allowed me to realize where I was heading, I might never have returned and given the steering wheel back to Him. If He had stepped in and protected me from hurting myself, I would never have noticed Him there. I would have just kept on going, oblivious to the dangers ahead.

Thankfully, that didn’t happen. I am striving for God again now, although I still feel as though I haven’t really learned to let Him guide me. I’m still trying. Me. Somehow I haven’t figured out yet that God is the one with the map.

I think that when I figure that out, God will allow me to be a part of something great. I know He’s doing mighty works in the world, and in people’s hearts, and I long to be in on the adventure, but I’m done trying to set my own course. I want to let Him tell me when and where to go.

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