I know a lot of times when we hear people talk about their “quiet times” it often feels as though it comes easily to them. But maybe for you, it’s a struggle. When you hear others talk about their Bible reading, maybe you find yourself experiencing guilt or shame because you are not in the Word enough and you lack the motivation motivated to get started.
I read this paragraph in “Messy Spirituality” by Mike Yaconelli years ago and immediately felt normal in my walk with Christ.
After 45 years of trying to follow Jesus, I keep losing him in the crowded busyness of my life. I know Jesus is there, somewhere, but it’s difficult to make Him out in the haze of everyday life. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a godly person. Yet when I look at the yesterday’s of my life, what I see, mostly, is a broken, irregular path littered with mistakes and failure. I have had temporary successes and isolated moments of closeness to God, but I long for the continuing presence of Jesus… I want desperately to know God better. I want to be consistent. Right now the only thing consistent in my life is my inconsistency. Who I want to be and who I am are not very close.
I can completely identify. It reminds me of what Paul writes in Romans 7:18-20:
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
We want to do what is good, but it’s a fight. Anybody with me?
Recently, I was battling some fleshly issues and my typical response is to allow them to grow in my mind and fume about them internally. Externally, believe it or not, I tend to isolate and shut down. I was experiencing pride and envy. I was not feeling spiritual, I wanted to avoid prayer and the Word at all costs. I just wished it would pass.
This never works.
I knew what I needed to do. I got up and went to a spot that I feel as though I can connect with the Lord. I opened that Word and all I could do was trust the Lord would show up and free me.
Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 7:24-25a
Jesus frees me, not always from the issue or sin, but He frees me from the struggle. I didn’t feel any shame or guilt from not wanting to pray or read His word. What I did feel on this particular day was the Holy Spirit literally providing me the strength to press into the Word and the Lord. I could not do this on my own. As result, the Holy Spirit revealed to me what I needed to confess to the Lord. It was a new experience for me and I was strengthened by it. The Lord works in everything. He is faithful, loving, and full of understanding. The answer is in Jesus!
As you journey through this new year, believe the answer is in Jesus. When you feel much like Mike Yaconelli and Paul and myself, may you know that Christ provides all that we need when seeking Him, even when we have to fight the feelings not to want to seek him! His grace is enough, church!