Friends, my faith walk has been through some tribulations.
Very big ones.
About six months ago I was at an all-time low in my walk with Christ. Funny thing was, I had just transitioned out of working in a ministry position that was part-time with super flexible hours and a boss that was one of my best friends. We talked about Jesus openly, freely, and frequently.
I had much of what I had hoped for to set me up for an intense, all-in life with Jesus. Problem was, I wasn’t pursuing Jesus outside of my job, and it was becoming the only source of my relationship with Him, and my crutch quickly became more of a thorn.
So I ventured into the corporate world, ripping away the thorn-crutch and expecting the Lord to help me be a light to my new co-workers. But obviously my habits did not change, and my walk continued to lack that hunger and depth… And you can’t pour from an empty cup.
My faith was more to keep up appearances at that point than out of actual desire to know the Lord better.
Has anybody else experienced this? Is this just me?, I wondered. I rationalized, I kept it to myself, and I ignored it. I thought that it must be normal, that like any relationship, the “newness” was finally wearing off at six years in, and I was falling into familiarity.
Every week I felt more and more distant from the Lord. I felt less and less joy. I found myself buying into more and more lies about myself, about Him, about life, about creation and the purpose of it all, about the Word… about everything really. I was becoming more and more lost and I FELT it.
Finally, I just couldn’t take it anymore. My confusion, my disconnectedness, the darkness I could feel growing inside of me… I decided I would spend an entire lunch hour alone in prayer and just dump it all out.
And I did. All of it. All of the darkness that was confusing and consuming me just flowing right out. All of the anger. All of the frustration. All of the guilt and regret and shame. All of my sadness. I just spoke honestly and openly out loud to the Lord, knowing He was listening and knowing that He was not surprised or shocked by any of my words, because He already knew all of my heart and loved me anyways. I was confessing it all.
Then I repented for a LOT and I told Him I didn’t want to live that way anymore – this shallow shadow of my potential self and potential life, scarcely scratching the surface of a relationship with Jesus, struggling with sin, and living my life for numero uno (myself).
Then I asked Him to make me HUNGRY.
I asked Him to put the fire back in me.
I asked Him to help me get back to Him.
Let me tell you, friends – He delivered.
I took action and sought the Lord, and He was faithful. Our God is FAITHFUL.
He told me or showed me the next steps. Some steps were made clear immediately. Some with time. They were personalized and perfectly constructed by the God that knows the ins and outs of my life, my sin tendencies, and the things that really excite me. He knew exactly what I needed to guide me back home.
And God showed me the path not because I am “special” but because He is faithful. He longs to be in close and meaningful relationships with us. That’s why Jesus came! So He could reconcile Himself TO Himself (Colossians 1 – oh my goodness, give it a read, it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL) and be Immanuel – “God WITH us” (Matthew 1:23).
But the key step is OBEDIENCE. I could have just continued on my lost and wandering path. We have to choose which path we want to take and then take action. The Lord has always been and will always be there. Our walk can be as intense or as shallow as we choose.
I thought about sharing what I have changed/added/stopped, but I really feel like I am meant to let only the Lord speak to you. I don’t want my steps to hinder/alter yours in any way, as God knows your walk and your heart and your life. Let Him tell you your next steps!
For me, some of the steps seemed so simple and small, but they have changed everything. I am not doing any of it perfectly by any means, but that’s okay. Perfection is not what the Lord asks. I have seen undeniable fruit appearing in my life regardless of my imperfections, and I am filled with awe at this powerful yet personal and merciful God that loves us so fiercely.
If there is a sin issue in your life or something you are holding on to and that is why you are distancing yourself from the Lord, I promise you, the pleasures that sin brings are not worth the joy, peace, and fulfillment the Lord can bring. Don’t let the enemy hold you back any longer. The enemy always over-promises and under-delivers. He is crafty and he wants you to think that your sin can make you and keep you happy, but it just can’t. The temporary pleasures of this world are not worth eternity, and with the help and power of Jesus, you can defeat the enemy.
If you are struggling because you have questions or concerns that you just can’t seem to reconcile – that’s okay! I wrestle with stuff that I read in scripture and see in the world and experience in my life, and that’s okay. It’s okay to have questions. Don’t let the enemy tell you that those questions cannot go before the Lord, or that you should be ashamed of them, or that you are wrong for having them. He made us curious creatures and questions can help us to know and understand Him better. We may never have answers to some of our questions and we won’t fully understand the Lord or His ways in this lifetime, but that doesn’t mean we need to hide.
[If you’re looking for messages that talk about the tough stuff as well as the good stuff, give Francis Chan a try (I typically just type his name into YouTube and pick a message that I felt a nudge reading the title of). He takes scripture literally and he strives to teach directly from it. It’s awesome.]
So, in summary, here is the secret: If we seek Him, we will find Him. If we ask for more of Him, He will give. We have to take action.
Matthew 7:7-13 (NIV)
Ask, Seek, Knock
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
The Narrow and Wide Gates
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Deuteronomy 4:28-39 (NIV)
28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone,which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.
The Lord Is God
32 Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? 33 Has any other people heard the voice of God[a] speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? 34 Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation,by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
35 You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other. 36 From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire. 37 Because he loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, 38 to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today.
39 Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. 40 Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.
Seek after Him. Ask Him for more and rejoice in the pruning and renewing of your mind, spirit, and relationship with Jesus!