The excitement and newness of God wears off.
Have you noticed?
After the wooing and the awe, the seeing of sin and our need of saving. The dropping in shame, the rising in grace, the washing away of old and the re-birth of a new creation…
After the walking. The learning. The drinking of milk and enjoying all the mashed up goodness in His Word. The doctrine you may pick through, then pick and choose to throw away or keep for another day. The denominations you may hop around in, then set up shop in before you move along again. Or, the worship styles, groups, and camps of belief you align with, then align against with others…
The eventual growing up, and finally settling into, this new life that was handed out freely…
And just when you think you’ve finally settled down and may actually know all there is to know about God and His grace and His goodness and greatness and what this Christian living thing is all about. And you’re running, in full strength, towards Him… His causes. His commission. His community…
Your run starts to look more like a jog. Then that becomes more of a walk. Then a crawl. Then maybe you get hobbled a bit by life, yet you’re still moving forward. Then, before you know it, you’re just outright stuck.
Stuck in the Middle
Like stuck, stuck! In mud and muck and mire. But, you’re still “doing” the thing, you know?? Doing church. Doing serving. Doing worship. Doing praise. Doing prayer, devotions, and Bible Studies. Doing until you want to die from boredom.
Because something is just off. It feels dead. There’s no joy. No peace, really. No faith, except in what you can produce. And you can’t produce much more than what a day demands of you at this point.
And honestly, even that is half-hearted.
And you know better. That THIS kind of self-serving type of living didn’t earn you God’s love in the beginning. So, how can it keep you in His love until the ending?
And, y’all, this can actually happen so fast and so slow all at once. So gradual we don’t even notice. And maybe only a year after rising up out of that cleansing water and into our new life. Or, maybe five years. Or, fifteen (that was my number). Or twenty-five or more, because…
Well, it simply happens to the most devoted and luke-warm alike.
And it’s more likely to happen when we turn a life that is hidden with God, in Christ Jesus, into a life that’s divided between old ways of living and new ways of believing. Divided between our purpose for ourselves and His purpose for us. Divided between what we live for and what Jesus died for us to have.
Until we eventually come to the end of all that working for self and on our own self. Really, the end of ourselves, altogether.
And then we may think to ourselves, “What is it I’m really doing here?” “What is this living as a Christian really all about… living for Christ really about??” We might even wonder if we really ever knew, because if what we’ve been doing is all there ever will be… if it’s all and only about me… what makes me happy and how I can keep people happy with me… then what is even the point!?
And I’ll stop right here, then venture to say… we likely never knew the point to begin with. Or, we actually lost it somewhere along the messy, spun up, and painful way, because we were still trying to make our own way… until our way ended in a dead end or the death of us.
Or, was that just me?
Except I’m not so sure it was, honestly, since I have two working ears and a pair of eyes that aren’t completely shot. Not yet, anyway. I hear the stories and struggles. I see many stuck and not growing in God’s grace. But it’s also because I don’t believe living as a new creation is really *taught* in the church. This point and purpose of living life as a Christian, I mean. It’s mostly *caught* since it’s gently whispered. Subtly offered. Laid out for our taking, but we’re usually too busy working on our own remaking to take notice, let alone a hold.
Until, that is, you get stuck neck deep in the mud, can’t go another step, and need a hand to hold! Or, even just stuck in all the mire of life’s enticements or the shiny things or must do’s the world shouts about. Or in needing approval, attention, and more success. Or, in vanity, validation, addictions, some grand calling, or creating a name.
Until the moment we wake up and realize that working for those things and living for Jesus aren’t very compatible. (They weren’t meant to be!) Because we’ve got no true joy. No peace. No contentment, nor any real satisfaction.
And this – right here – is the place we can stop and see we have a choice to make… Move ahead in Jesus or stay stuck in ourselves!
And if we choose Jesus (yes, please!), all we need to do is begin back at the beginning. Back in God’s Word, laid bare before you. Through all the tears and fears and the new life that’s now barely visible. Confessing truth that bears witness to our soul’s truth that what we’ve been doing is simply not working.
Confessing that what we say we believe is far from how we live. That knowing about salvation and God and Jesus and Christianity is much different than knowing in the most deeply, personal, emotional way, that God wants every single part of you because He created you and deserves this, at the very least.
Although it’s what we’ve ignored the most.
But He doesn’t stop there, because He also wants you to know every single thing you possibly can about Him in a relationship that goes beyond knowing about someone and into knowing every aspect of someone, personally… Their heart; motivations; character; voice; touch; even their very breath. (Hint: The Holy Spirit)
Does this not define a true, intimate relationship? Or, is it too hard for you to even imagine that the God of the Universe wants this with you?? He does, though. It’s His entire desire. And if you can’t believe it, before we move on, I’d say you should begin right where you are in all that unbelief. Tell Him every bit of it. Open. Honest. Raw disbelief. Then, ask Him to show you how much He longs for you.
But back to truly knowing another soul! Listen, we all know this kind of knowing only happens over time and in loads of time spent together. And if you’re sitting right now in neck deep, thick and filthy mud, wondering how you got there and why God hasn’t helped yet…
Wondering why He seems angry, unjust, or plain unfair and cruel…
Thinking this Christianity thing has simply become altogether boring and you could care less anymore…
Then you just might be right where He wants you! Right in the perfect place to finally begin knowing this Savior and Lord you say you know and love.
Know, Now and Forever, Your One and Only
You won’t be alone in that place, either. In case that matters. Besides the fact that whether we feel God or not, He’s always with us, I, myself, have also been in that exact pit. One I pretty much dug all by myself, then hopped myself right into! See, I knew much about God while saying I loved Him, but not really knowing Him at all, I kept doing this thing called *Christianity* out of equal parts duty, habit, and honestly, a true need.
So, I remember. And I’ve also come up with this prayer that may help us both. But you could also write your own. God is personal, after all. It’s another thing I now know about Him. He knows the number of hairs on your head, collects your tears, knows all your secrets, knit you in your mother’s womb, has all your days numbered, rejoices over you with singing, has made you the apple of His eye, and calls you by name because you are His (through Jesus!)
Honestly, how can we resist one moment longer getting to know personally, and more and more, a God Who knows us like that?!
It’s actually baffling that we don’t wake up running to Him in joy and excitement every. single. day. But, alas… we’re human, so…
Let’s run to Him right now in relationship through conversation!
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, oh Blessed Trinity… I have accepted your gift of new life and I learned to the best of my ability what that new life was all about. I sought you and sought out others to help show me more.
I joined your churches and heard sermons and served and gave and defended your causes. I have prayed and thanked and begged and praised you with desperate and sincere lips. I read your words as often as I could and tried to hear You when you’ve spoken to me and through others. I’ve prayed for others I love or don’t even know to be blessed by You, as I have. I’ve begged your mercy and forgiveness and justice and power to find me and those caught up in knots and chains like me.
I’ve been wise enough to know that Your heart is for people and nothing is too much for You because your arms are strong enough and your hearing good enough to both hold and hear all, and yet also know that Your way is still good no matter the cost and outcome. And I’ve also been wise enough in my own eyes to forget that everything I know (including that massive, run-on sentence above) I only know by Your grace given to me. And yet, I still try to demand my own way and want to remake all I can in my own image.
Father, I also confess I don’t enjoy you like I should. I don’t hunger for your Word and long to please you with obedience and complete dependence. Living for You and Your Kingdom has become boring. The world holds so many shiny, sweet, and delectable things. So many grand and fun and get-me-excited kinda things. So many things I can see and touch and hold. And my own heart holds my very own hopes and dreams, too, which I often can’t see through life in You. You are hard to see and hear and impossible to hold. And You may not want what I want, which seems harder still.
And You often appear silent, harsh, and cold. Bad things and suffering and evil persist and it’s easier to ignore You so I don’t have to excuse them or You. I don’t understand it all, anyway, so why get into those weeds or all the fray. It’s easier to put You off until tomorrow, or Sunday, and say You don’t really care anyway because You’re too busy being holy and God and handling big stuff. Then, I get distracted because I want to feel good right now, so grab hold of things I can control since there’s so much I cannot.
Plus, fear lurks around every stinking corner, as You well know, and the things of this world offer ways that often feel more real and able to quell those fears. Until they don’t (I’m learning). So, I live in anger or painful passion, insisting all be as I see they should be! And I wonder if you’re ever gonna come through because you’ve yet to in so many areas, then take matters into my own hands, forgetting all Your faithfulness in all years past.
And while I try and praise you for those, I continue to live in my own strength and for my own praise and purpose. I long for comfort and contentment and a strong command of all around me, often at my own peril since I put off the harder, most challenging things until they eventually go away or overwhelm by becoming everything. Again, forgetting you’ve gone before me and give grace abounding when asked, then a trust that knows your strength is made perfect in my weakness.
The bottom line, Father, is… I don’t trust You. Not truly. But, it’s because I don’t know You. Not really. So, I have yet to surrender to You fully. To Your perfect plan and purpose intended before even the world began, and well before I even began. And I keep holding the things I can, then forget to grab hold of the only thing that lasts forever… YOU!
Today, though, I’m ready to do that. Ready to begin again at the beginning. Begin to truly and really know and love You for only You. Not for what You can do for me or others, but for Who and Everything You are. Because You, Father, are the I Am and I belong to You, right now and for all eternity. Please forgive my waywardness and wandering. Keep me in Your grace, focused on Your face, seeing Your greatness, and growing to know, ever more, You as You are! Amen.