***I have not written in a couple of weeks, for many reasons, but there is mainly one: I have been rather afraid and caught up in what is going on in the world. I have allowed myself to be so caught up in the world that I have been unable to think very clearly or look without scales over my eyes, skewing everything I see to make me more afraid. The Lord, faithful as He is, has helped calm my heart and given me pause to write about what follows here. And maybe it is a little jumbled and there could be some loose ends in what I say. Maybe everything I have written isn’t quite correct, but I hope it bears some support in this time for you. Would you be blessed as you read, and would God meet you in the Right Now of all the craziness that is happening on our little planet.***
Somehow, even with a cleared schedule and an entirely empty planner, I have found ways to not spend time with God.
I have filled my time with spacing out and watching way too much tv and scrolling through the same social media apps over and over again. I have avoided and dodged, for some reason I cannot seem to discern, spending time with the Only One Who can actually change my heart-state from one of fear and uncertainty to one of Big Picture and Good Eternal Things vision.
But I would rather stare at my wall right now than read my Bible or listen to worship music (which I’m actually doing while writing this because I know my heart needs it) than take a humbling position before the King of kings to bring myself before Him in all my confused and unbelievably shortcoming glory.
He has prepared a Place for me and a Crown and Everything Good, and I cannot seem to, in this world’s strange season (because this pandemic is just a season—and it will not be a forever thing), pray for 15 minutes. I keep wondering why it has become suddenly so difficult for me to practice, not even spiritual discipline, but just doing the bare basics of what is just normally expected to maintain a good relationship.
And yet, for some unknown reason (well, not entirely unknown because His character very well aligns with this) He still calls me to sit with Him.
I think I’ve created this narrative in my mind that if I don’t spend 9 hours a day sitting in prayer and meditating on Scripture that I have failed. (And don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a place and time to spend hours and hours with God, in single focus on Him, but there is also a place to walk hand-in-hand with Him in conversation throughout our regular day. The latter is what should become constant practice, and it seems to be what I cannot feel to do.)
I have avoided time with God because at least if I avoid, I won’t feel like I failed in my time with Him.
The funny thing is that He doesn’t sit with me when I come before Him and antagonize my heart by saying I should spend more time with Him. He welcomes me with open arms and is just so excited to spend time with me. And while my heart is convicted by Holy Spirit to come near, it is not Holy Spirit Who is filling me with guilt and feelings of inadequacy. Those feelings of inadequacy and like maybe I’m not doing everything I can are rooted in the fear-narratives the enemy has, since the beginning of time, been speaking over the Children of God in an attempt to draw us as completely from The Presence as possible.
But God doesn’t look at our lack of time with Him and say, “They never measure up.”
He knows we never measure up—you don’t sacrifice everything for people who are doing fine on their own. Nails and crosses are not reserved for people who measure up on their own.
God looks at us, in our lack of drawing near and our uncertainties, fears and shames, and He says, “I have never stopped loving you, and I never will. Let’s work on this together. Let me draw you near, for you are my Child, and I am so in Love with you.”
We get so caught up in the question of “Are we disappointing God?”
When in fact what we should be caught up in is the unimaginably, overwhelmingly self-sacrificial steps God has taken to ensure our Forever with Him.
God doesn’t need us. He never has. His salvation story is entirely built in His unwavering character and, for some unknown reason, Great Love for us.
Because, me not spending Time with God doesn’t cause problems for God, it causes problems for me. God doesn’t need us. We need Him.
I don’t feel like spending time with God way more than I would like to admit, and it is in those times that I am most reminded of my inability to truly carry myself—whether on the mountaintop or below it.
We look at time with God too much as an obligation—a duty to fulfill some sort of nonexistent quota, a box to check—as if crossing time spent with Jesus off a to-do list will fulfill us. “A perfect man would never act from a sense of duty; he’d always want the right thing more than the wrong one. Duty is only a substitute for love (of God and of other people) like a crutch which is a substitute for a leg. Most of us need the crutch at times; but of course it is idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (our own loves, tastes, habits etc.) can do the journey on their own.” (C.S. Lewis) When we view God as a crutch, someone Who we must fill at least some of our Time with to say we fulfilled the necessary spiritual portion of our day, we treat God as a vending machine—nothing more than a giver of certain feelings so I can experience self-assuredness at having spent Time with God.
But it is not about the minutes on the clock or the feeling in our gut but about the posture of our hearts—fruit is not only borne when the tree “feels” like bringing forth a harvest. A harvest comes after months of toiling through many nights and days with many different temperatures and with regular tending by the growers of that tree.
My grandparents have an apple tree in their backyard, and for the first couple of years, there was no fruit, but the same care was required of it as if fruit were coming. Along with a lack of harvest those first two years, they had to prop it up with various sticks and rocks to make sure a small gust of wind wouldn’t knock it over any given day. But when the apples began to grow, and we could finally eat them, they were worth the wait and toil.
There is something to be said for struggling and dragging yourself to the foot of the cross everyday—especially when you don’t feel like it.
I do not feel like spending Time with God right now because I am rather caught up in the emotions of what is going on in the world.
And in these moments, when I don’t feel like taking Time to sit with the Only One Who can help re-posture my heart, I have found it most critical to set aside my lack of “feeling it” to allow myself to be uncomfortable as I ask for God to come meet with me once again in my lack of emotion and desire. It is in these moments where His character is most tangibly Good to my spirit, despite my feelings—for He does not walk away in the face of my lacking ability to Love Him well. He only draws me closer and teaches me once again how Good He is.
“If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.” (C.S. Lewis)
Despite our feelings and maybe even resistances, would we run with reckless abandon into the Great Love Himself, knowing all of our needs have been fully met in Him. For “In God there is no hunger that needs to be filled, only plenteousness that desires to give.” (C.S. Lewis)