Have you ever swum in a lake or in an ocean and gotten disoriented so that you drift farther from shore than you intended to swim? You have a moment of panic. Then you spot the shore and swim parallel to the beach and follow the breaking waves back at an angle, and they lead you back to shore.
The same thing happens on a diet. Just one pack of M&Ms. Just one doughnut. You fully intended to go back to your diet…but the lure of sugar pulls you back with its inexpensive price, advertisements, and availability. Before you know it, you’ve gained back the weight that you lost.
Did you know that drifting away happens spiritually as well?
One of the many fallouts of COVID-19 has been the need to rearrange worship and Bible Study to an online format. The virus has spread too far and wide and killed (or assisted in killing) too many people to be taken lightly. However, the problem with this arrangement is simple: no accountability. Nobody knows whether you attend or not unless it is by Zoom. And human beings lie.
My drift wasn’t all at once. But I noticed it. Whenever I sang about Jesus, whenever I heard others pray in His Name, something in me would cringe. And that didn’t make any sense.
It was like a spirit of shame lingered in the back of my heart. I didn’t understand it. So, on my way home from Little Rock, I asked God about it. I distinctly heard Him (in my mind, y’all–not audibly) ask about my fellowship with his Son lately. Sheepishly, I admitted that I hadn’t talked to Him in a while. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time I talked to Him. I had been pretty mad at Him for some time.
You see, something happened to my best friend, and God allowed it to happen. It wasn’t fair. And I had been deeply hurt for a long time. I was so deeply hurt, I didn’t want to talk to Jesus about it. Because He could have done something about it! But now I realize there was another silent but deadly accomplice.
The devil will do what he can to drive a wedge between the Lord and me. In my unwillingness to trust God with my best friend’s best interests, I allowed Satan to feed my desire for answers. Every time I said, “No” to the Holy Spirit’s invitation to fellowship, I said, “Yes” to Satan’s, and before I knew it, I had strayed so far away from God’s influence that I couldn’t even hear the Holy Spirit wooing me.
Because of my relationship with Christ, my soul was starving for fellowship, and I didn’t even know it. It was not until I noticed a pulling away, a cringe, a discomfort whenever His name was mentioned outside of the church, that I knew something was wrong.
God, the Father, in His longsuffering love let me get to the point where I had to solve this mystery before He would show me how far I had fallen away. Now I understand why God says, in Jeremiah 29:13, ” You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you.”
My former pastor tells a story about a Native American who owned two dogs that fought each other day and night. One day, a man watching them fighting asked the Native American, “Which one of the dogs usually wins?” The Native replied, “The one I feed.” My poor starving soul. I kept her from feeding upon the Bread of Life and the Living Water so long that she had no strength to fight off the sin nature Satan fed with his attention.
Are you a proud prodigal wanting your day in court to plead your case against the Holy One? In your pursuit for what you understand as justice, will you spurn the invitations of the Holy Spirit, and by doing so, distance yourself from the only One who loves you completely?
Job, a prophet whom God called to go to Nineveh had that problem, too. He wanted his day in court.
I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12 Am I the sea, or the monster of the deep,
that you put me under guard?
13 When I think my bed will comfort me
and my couch will ease my complaint,
14 even then you frighten me with dreams
and terrify me with visions,
15 so that I prefer strangling and death,
rather than this body of mine.
16 I despise my life; I would not live forever.
Let me alone; my days have no meaning.
17 “What is mankind that you make so much of them,
that you give them so much attention,
18 that you examine them every morning
and test them every moment?
19 Will you never look away from me,
or let me alone even for an instant?
20 If I have sinned, what have I done to you,
you who see everything we do?
Why have you made me your target?
Have I become a burden to you?[a]
21 Why do you not pardon my offenses
and forgive my sins?
For I will soon lie down in the dust;
you will search for me, but I will be no more.”
God let Job have his say. But when Job was finished, God answered him.
And after God started to answer Job’s demands for an audience, Job realized that in his arrogance, he didn’t know who he was messing with, and he had no right to question God for any future reasons:
“I know that you can do all things;(A)
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.(B)
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’(C)
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.(D)
4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’(E)
5 My ears had heard of you(F)
but now my eyes have seen you.(G)
6 Therefore I despise myself(H)
and repent(I) in dust and ashes.”(J)
Will you, like me, use your complaint to block hearing His still, small, voice calling your name?
Will you allow Satan to convince you that Christ doesn’t love you, isn’t all-powerful, and doesn’t exist when He has proven to you in a hundred other ways, a hundred other times that He is faithful, longsuffering, and trustworthy?
In the words of Dr. Phil McGraw, “How is that workin’ for ya?”
Come home to Christ. He’s not mad at you. If Christ missed me, then He has missed you, too. It doesn’t mean that your questions don’t count. It means that your fellowship with Him is more important than any question you have.