God is on my case.
He knows my weaknesses, failings, indulgences. He sees when I fold my arms in complacency, monitors how my time is spent. Hearing my claims of piety, He replays them as I turn my back to Him. Feeling my hand slip from His, I am allowed to go – for a brief time.
Soon I hear the baying of His hound. Jesus doesn’t let His sheep stray far before rounding them back up. He confronts me with my wrong priorities and narrow, self-interested obsessions.
For this I am glad. Being reminded yet again that it is so much simpler and easier to follow Him than to attempt cutting my own path through a wilderness of confusion.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
(Matthew 11:30 ESV)
I am ashamed to admit it, but sometimes I can’t be bothered putting in the effort to follow Christ. It seems so much easier to watch TV or surf the web or just be like the secular folks around me. I want to follow Him, I think about it a lot, I talk about it. But when it comes to putting aside worldly things and coming alone to God in prayer, I neglect Him.
Actions speak louder than words. My actions indicate that God does not ‘do it for me’. They indicate that I’d rather let myself be distracted than to worship Him.
The silly thing: I was mostly unaware of how bad I’d gotten. He gave me a sunny day, a frowning mother-in-law, a pail of paint, a wall needing painting, and an audiobook on an ipod. With all these in place God nudged me outside and caused my scrolling to stop at what He wanted me to hear – E.M. Bounds on Prayer and Praying Men.
I was convicted on my feeble prayer life. Even more, I was accosted my my lukewarmness. Weeds have sprung up and the embers are cooling, I am in a dangerous place!
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
(Revelation 3:15–16 ESV)
Behind my cooling passion for prayer and the Bible and being in God’s presence is a perceived lack of strength to do these things. Yet this is foolish – nobody has the strength to serve God – we must serve in His strength. I am crippled by sin, weak in my human nature. To serve God in passion and holiness I need Him to lift me up.
Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:27–31 ESV)
Gifts I have noticed recently:
867) Being ridden on as a “daddy dinosaur”.
868) Son giving me happy spontaneous hugs.
869) An afternoon weeding the garden – good for my soul.
870) Pizza for dinner.
871) Bus driver waiting when he saw me running.
872) Finding a good book to give my daughter.
873) A quiet day at work.
874) Several early nights in a row.
875) Watching ships cruise past from our front window
876) Finishing one of many painting tasks needing done.
877) Colleague swapping shifts with me after I double-booked my time.
878) Bellbirds and tuis singing.
879) Paper to write on.
881) Autumn sunshine.
Photo of bloodhound: iStock
Photo of helping hand: iStock