If you’ve been following me you have surely noticed I have been quiet for about the past month or so. Partly due to not having much time to sit and write, but also due to the stagnant state I had found myself in. I wasn’t actively getting into God’s word with the intent to fall deeper in love with Him, I wasn’t talking with Him and being honest with Him, I was actively hiding from Him even though, as David says, “you know when I sit and when I lay down… You are always with me…nothing goes unnoticed by you”, even though I know that I continued to spiral down and down and down thinking that things would magically get better and the routine would give me a sense of satisfaction and closeness. It didn’t. It helped drive me deeper into a state of resentment and disloyalty, it made me so bitter that I couldn’t function like I used to. So as the monotonous routine continued I chose to read through another book, another thing to give me the upper hand amongst my Christian brothers and sisters, another reason to feel more entitled to a thing that was always intended to be equally available to EVERYONE; and that’s God’s love.
I felt that the more I worked, the more I struggled, the more I____________ that God would pour out MORE love and affection on His servant Sean. I had it fixed in my mind that surely by diligently keeping all His commands that I would achieve satisfaction and feel joy. Instead I felt seclusion, abandonment, confusion, rejection. I had slaved for so much that I felt it was “owed” to me to receive the things that I wanted. But what I was working so hard to do and accomplish were more aimed towards pleasing people and gaining earthly recognition. Now I know my perspective at the time is way skewed compared to the reality so let me just say I SCREWED UP big time. Let’s continue….
As the gaping hole of disconnection and dissatisfaction widened I began to sense a discrepancy in my thinking and what is the biblical perspective and the character of our Gracious God. Galatians 2 talks about how we are saved by GRACE not WORKS; thank goodness! I have read that and heard that preached but for whatever reason I found it unbearable to accept that I shouldn’t labor for certain things and as I’ve found out I should labor for the gospel. Philippians 4:3 says that “these women labored along side me for the gospel”. Labor is a part of it, but what I lacked, or distorted was the motive.
The inner condition of my heart was not that of full submission to my Lord and Savior but it was to please my peers and keep the religious rules that have plagued christianity since it’s beginning (the same rules that Jesus tried to steer the Pharisees and religious upright of that day away from. He tried to steer them from their old way of thinking to a new way and that’s towards Jesus and His likeness.) I wanted to have, not only an upper hand on other christians, but also on God. I know you can’t do this and I never thought of it this way until I ventured through a book called “Prodigal God” by Timothy Keller. It took the parable of the prodigal son and hit on both son’s heart condition. The younger that of self exploration to gain acceptance, and the elder, one of obedience and perfect adherence to every little thing. Both of which parallel the 2 groups of people you see wandering the halls of churches, the aisles of Walmart, driving down the street, and maybe even living in the same house; the outcast and lowly sinners caught in adultery, drugs, sex, alcohol, etc. and the Pharisaical “every time the doors are open” church goer who inside is going through Hell just keeping all of these man made rules and regulations on a FREE gift not distributed off merit.
So I found myself in limbo, and then I remembered these words, “focus on your relationship with Christ, magnify it and everything else will fall into place”. These words were said to help me before being involved in vocational ministry but they echoed loud in my ears as I saw the rules replace the relationship.
Here is my point: Don’t stress the “rules” and “regulations” that have dug in to the place of the “free gift” and “grace” gospel. The relationship is priority. When that becomes flipped, all the working and laboring leaves you tired, exhausted, bitter, and unsatisfied. If all you’re trying to do is please others, like I was, you will end up disappointed just like I was. Build on your relationship and watch your work become more fulfilling and effective. Purpose in your heart to go out on a limb for Jesus this week and see the results. Don’t be QUIET like I was.
Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.
-1 Peter 3:15