Ever have one of those days where you feel you are nowhere close to being worthy to be called a child of God? Where you’re tired of trying to tell people about Jesus when you know they could not possibly care less? When you want to give up on serving Him and just lounge in His love? When you want God to be there for you but you don’t feel like being there for Him? I had a few of those days about a week ago.
Andrew Murray: This is the spirit of the world: to seek one’s self and the visible (John 5:44).
I just decided for one day I was going to do whatever I wanted to do. I felt too tired to even try to speak of God to anyone. I didn’t feel led to read His Word. I said some off-hand prayers but they were only seeking God’s approval for how I had decided to spend my day. I didn’t wait for any kind of an answer from Him. I did feel Him gently trying to lead me away from this self-obsession; felt Him thumping my noggin several times trying to draw me nearer to Him so He could adjust my attitude. But I kept justifying my desire for the day to just be about me. “I deserve one day.” And that’s how I spent the day – diverting others so I could stick to my plan. I thought I could hide out in the pool just lying there. For one day it couldn’t hurt, right? Each time someone asked me to do something, I found a way out of it if it didn’t fit in with my plan for the day. I indulged myself, giving myself first priority over everything that came up.
Who could I hurt if I just checked out for a day? Well, I messed up a really big opportunity to bring a couple of people nearer to God. I missed some good witnessing opportunities. I hurt God. I grieved the Spirit. I didn’t worship God as He deserves. I felt the pain of being separated from God.
As the week progressed and I was in a better place the thought occurred to me that Jesus never said “Ya know I’m just going to take a day for myself. The lepers and possessed and sick and lost can just wait a day while I pamper myself.” Jesus didn’t go to a spa, lounge on the beach, or play a round of golf to refresh Himself. He did take time to be alone but He spent the time with His Father, praying; He spent entire nights praying to God.
Luke 6:12 (NKJV) – “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.”
The need to focus and aggressively nurture my relationship with God last week gave me the chance to experience how spending time with Him does so much more for my soul than spending a day absorbed in myself. I remember thinking “It’s just one day. I deserve it.” But it did nothing to rejuvenate me. And I certainly don’t “deserve” it. Without Jesus I am a wretched sinner. I could live in a place on earth where a day of rest is not possible. Am I better than those who live in such a place that God would allow me to indulge myself in such a way? I deserve nothing. If God blesses me with a “free” day, it is shameful that I even thought of moving away from Him to experience the blessing. The realization that I did this sickens me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 – “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
I know that feeling tired in my walk with Jesus is going to happen but I must also remember that it is a tool Satan can use to pull me away and thwart my work for Jesus. I cannot have a day off from living for Christ because I must always be looking for opportunities to share His Good News and to be His hands and feet. While I can have a day of doing nothing but meditating on Him I cannot go a single day without spending time with Him and keeping the needs of His Kingdom first and foremost. Scripture tells us that Satan is a formidable foe and we must not underestimate him. But Satan won on that particular day and his victory did not go unnoticed. It is a consequence I do not want to experience again anytime soon. I wish I could communicate to my unsaved friends and family how wretched it feels being separated from God once we know Him and how much He loves us. I want them to know it brings misery that is beyond description and it is not something they will want to feel for eternity.
2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
The old Carolyn paid a visit that day and I didn’t much care for her. Since that day it has been very clear to me that God didn’t just repair me when I committed my life to Him: He truly did make a new creation. God used the day to help me see how far I’ve come and how dark the world truly is without Him. I wonder how I lived so long in the darkness but clearly understand why I spent so much time depressed, lost and feeling so hopeless.
D. James Kennedy: “You cannot say, ‘No, Lord,’ and mean both words; one annuls the other. If you say no to Him, then He is not your Lord.”
God has used that day to refine me in two ways. He began to lay on my heart what He wants my life to look like. Still not fully recovered from “battle fatigue,” I responded with a flat out “no.” No, I wasn’t ready to do the things He was showing me. No, sadly, I don’t think I’m capable of living like that. No, it just makes me too tired to even think about it. Pre-occupied with myself, I let God know that I didn’t think my walk with Him could ever look like what He was showing me. But as I call on the Spirit’s power rather than my own, I know I can do what God is calling me to do.
Psalm 132:13, 14 – “This is my rest, here will I dwell.”
God also reminded me of the need to devote one day to Him – a Sabbath Day. As a Christian, we generally think of Sunday as the day to devote to God, but I find I don’t truly devote the day to Him. I go to church then the day continues as any other day. I do household chores, shop, run errands. If it is truly a Sabbath for me, it should look different than any other day. Andrew Murray, in his book The New Life says: “Keep it very holy. And, above all, let it be a day of inner fellowship with your God…. …There is no better day than the Lord’s day for doing good to body and soul….” I suspect if I were to observe one day as a true Sabbath, I won’t feel the fatigue I encountered last week. I don’t want to go backwards in my Christian walk; I want always to be strengthening my faith, always moving forward. God’s example is for one day out of seven to be a day of rest and as I obey Him in this, I will be better able to live every single day of my life serving Him in the best way possible.
2 Peter 1:4 – “…having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
I have escaped the world and after spending one day back in it, I know I don’t want to ever go back. But, as I’m fond of saying, “Me is a hard habit to break.” I now know that I must watch for an attack when I’m feeling tired, and draw closer to God instead of pulling away from Him. I found this prayer from Andrew Murray (The New Life) and I ask it of God every day:
Precious Savior, teach me what self-denial is. Teach me so to distrust my heart that in nothing shall I yield to its desires. Teach me so to know You that it shall be impossible for me to do anything else than to offer up myself to possess You and Your life. Amen.