The moment I first believed, how did my heart get captured? I've tried to recollect it, kind of like the Holy Spirit pouring the love of God in our hearts as Paul describes it. Nothing is like that moment, but I hardly remember what it felt like right now.
I still do the 'basics' don't get me wrong, I try to worship, study the word, I even pray for the unsaved, even those I do not know, but I just don't feel like God is actually really really around me. I don't even know if I'm backsliding. Hell, I'm not...I don't do the things I used to..well, some, but I see those habits differently now, my mind has changed I tell you, yet I just feel OK doing them again - they just do not seem as bad, may be I took things too far thinking they were so wrong!
I was listening to Chris Tomlin's version of amazing grace this morning, and what stood out to me was that line 'the moment I first believed'. I remember the feeling I just described, and feeling that way time and time again. My journey so far has been a real roller coaster. Today, I feel saved, sanctified and Holy Ghost filled, tomorrow and may be next tomorrow I just don't care as much, as may be next week, I pray about that flu that I'm coming down with and it just vanishes. But why don't I just go from 'glory to glory'. How come I sometimes feel apathetic towards the things I was yearning for just days ago, when I vowed to never turn back. I know I did not make a conscious decision to 'turn back', but I feel as though I've lost it somehow. People tell me, "nooo, that's not you, that's the devil putting those thoughts in your head, influencing your thinking. Take authority!". But they just don't get it, they do not know I feel genuinely apathetic, even though I should know better. Some say "You got saved, but your mind is warring against you - you have to renew it everyday, die to the flesh!". Yes, but still...I don't know!
I do not have all the answers, but I know for sure I'm not the only one that has had to deal with those frustrations, and as I thought about the title for this blog, all of a sudden, 'the struggling christian' stood out to me. I had written about it a while ago in my journal, and there is a lot to say about it, but I'll try to narrow it all down.
Oh, and those advice I got, they were 'legit', but as with all the things of God, it's the Spirit that has to work within us that gets us that 'understanding' and peace. We cannot do it ourselves.
As I struggled through those moments when I thought I did something and so God has left me, and even after asking for forgiveness, I felt as though He is not coming back (I know Christianity 101 teaches otherwise, but when you feel that way, sometimes you don't believe it), I would come across scripture like "...if one walks in darkness, he stumbles, because the light is not in him" (John 11:10) and "the lamp of the body is the eye, if the eye is good, your whole body would be full of light,...if therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matt. 6:23), and I would freak out! Because I don't want to be that person, but I do not know what I am doing wrong.
The Spirit has taught me, what He tried to in the above verses that I ran away from, that the mind is where it all lies. My mind (the eye with which I see the world) was bad, and so even as I grew in the things of God, I just did not carry it on the rest of the day and with time I became lost and felt disconnected. Obvious, but it was not so easy. Maybe when we read scripture like that, we do not want to believe it's us because we are good. And truly, we are, but we don't truly know ourselves, do we? We carry on the air of independence and confidence in our abilities, nice to people, we take care of haters (for lack of a 'better' word) w/out having to stoop down to their level, we generally handle our business like good, mature people/Christians. But good people does not equal godly people, and 'saved' people does not equal godly people, heck, do you even know for sure you are saved?
God puts it in a way that I like in Isaiah 28: 9-13
“ Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message?
Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts?
10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.”
11 For with stammering lips and another tongue, He will speak to this people,
12 To whom He said, “This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest,” And, “This is the refreshing”; Yet they would not hear.
13 But the word of the LORD was to them, “ Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little,” That they might go and fall backward, and be broken and snared and caught.
This passage was so refreshing at the time I read it, that I had to ask God out loud: "so You knew?" Thing is, we have just been drawn from the breast, what ever that breast was, whatever it was that our minds were so accustomed to, we have been drawn away from it, but we just do not know exactly where we are going, or what we are doing - our minds cannot stretch beyond its present boundaries. And as we learn, we have those moments when we are actually growing in the Spirit, and we feel it, but then, it becomes repetitive, some people then 'fit God into a routine', we do not have the understanding for scripture we keep coming across, we try to analyze it ourselves, we know something is missing, something is going horribly wrong, yet we cannot place a finger on it. Our Christianity is simply: precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little.
The funny thing about it is that God says with stammering lips and another tongue, He speaks to this people. I just got the understanding right now. Basically, God keeps repeating himself like babies do, till we understand, because that is the only way that we get it, as baby Christians. He keeps saying da da, ma ma, ta ta, yet we want to fly when we do not know how to crawl. We want to quote the quoteables and break down scripture, but we are still yet to get the ta ta and the da da, and in time, we lose that fire.
But really why do we just not get it. If you read the verses before verse 9, God talks about his people, the ones set apart to be used by him (that applies to all Christians btw..) being swallowed up by wine, erring in vision, stumbling in judgment. But more than that, the tables are filthy, covered up in vomit. That is our mind. The filthy table. How can a student learn with that kind of table, the vomit would find its way to the pages of the book, making the book unreadable. We read the Word, but we do not see it, we do not understand. Our minds do not let it happen. But we go on, and inevitably, we fall backwards, become broken and snared and caught. We then want to call up our friends that a month ago we decided to spend less time with, we find ourselves back in clubs, grinding away and drinking ourselves to stupor. Some become simply restless, trying to study the Word, but it feels like beating a dead horse. Those thoughts are forming in our minds again and we are saying "get behind me satan", but uh uh...to where?
In essence, we are not bad people, but our minds are carnal. Our 'eyes' are bad, and great darkness dwells within such that we do not feel like Christians, like we did the hour we first believed. But God is looking at us, as we struggle in our own blood and saying to us 'Live!' (Ez 16). We must gird up the loins of our mind, and refuse to conform to the former lusts, as we did in the days of our ignorance (1 Peter 1:13), resisting the devil, knowing that other Christians experience the same. (1 Peter 5:8-10). But importantly, and this has helped me a lot, pray to God bluntly...stop manufacturing lines that sound like 'prayer lines' and just talk to Him. I tell God straight up, "today Lord, I feel like I'm one step away, I was even thinking about him, that him, I don't know why I do these things, but I know I shouldn't, I was thinking it throughout, but everything reminded me of him. I could even smell him, but it's all lust, now even my hormones are all worked up, I truly feel 1 step away from feeling completely lost, I don't even understand all I've read all morning, where are you? Speak peace to me, and bring me back to where I should be." That does not sound like the prayer that comes from the pulpit on Sundays, but it is a prayer. Allow yourself to be intimate w/your God, your Father. I tell you, he is reaaaaally real.
But if there's nothing else you get from this blog, get this: the need the love of the father in you. I'll talk more about that in the next blog.
And remember, it is only diligent people who find him. Enjoy the rest of your journey.