Monday, July 13, 2009


I've had a rough few weeks. I slowly drifted into a state of...something. Characteristics: selfishness, laziness, indecision, degree of depression, passivity. For the most part, I've been struggling with what to do with my free time, how to serve, and what ways I should be "plugged in" at church.

I recently read a book on grace by Chuck Smith. It helped me a lot to better understand grace, how we don't have to "do" things to please the Lord or earn salvation, blessing, etc. It's unmerited favor the Father gives. With that learned/reinforced, I predictably, yet unexpectedly, swung wide to the side of "just be"; certainly short of "license to sin," but far enough into a murky mire as to disrupt my maturing with the Lord. This situation was greatly exacerbated by a free and clear schedule (double meaning there). I didn't have many obligations, and I felt that unless the Lord told me to do something, I could spend the time how I pleased. I would ask the Lord if there was anything He wanted me to do, to let me know. But I can't claim authenticity in strongly seeking His voice for direction.

So, I went on doing whatever I wanted. I played sports nearly every night and relaxed at home afterward. Sometimes I'd listen to a sermon or just watch a game. After repeated days of such activity, an empty feeling developed and grew. I knew I wasn't being discipled/mentored, yet I wasn't clamoring for it. I knew I wasn't deep in genuine fellowship, yet I was okay with my personal study and occasional spiritual conversations with friends. I was doing just enough to keep the overwhelming voice of His Spirit at bay.

The typical consequences of such actions arose: over-eating, sluggish exercising, boredom, shorter prayers, spiritual frustration, etc. The warning signs were all there, and He has grown me enough to make them clearly visible. Yet I waited. Not on the Lord, as I was claiming to a degree, but on myself. I knew without a doubt something was amiss.

One thing that has been good: throughout this time: my faith in His holding onto me was never in question. And perhaps that lent itself to me prolonging my malaise. I knew He wouldn't let me go, but I became extremely passive in this, waiting for Him to change something. A bout of laziness. Thankfully, He loves me enough to take me as I am, and He loves me enough to not leave me as I am.

One particular sticking point of the degeneration: for a while I had been fighting going to Men's bible study at my church. [Divergence: part of me wants to analyze why I'm so hesitant/resistant, but I know that will dig up more imperfections that I'm leery to currently face. Enough of me has learned by now that indeed I need not sift and sort it all, that the Lord will form His clay without it knowing all it's composition. All this analysis, performed as though I knew all the variables. Petty. And pathetic. And forgiven.] There are different reasons, none of which are sound. My rationalization was compounded: well, I don't really want to go, and He hasn't told me to; I don't really know what I'll get out of it that I can't get from personal study, reading commentaries, and listening to sermons; I usually don't really contribute anything unless I'm sure of it, so they won't miss much if I'm not there, etc. There's a certain pronoun that was running rampant.

Sunday was huge for me. God had been speaking in little ways (started reading Isaiah, about justice and a calling, etc.), but I kept pushing them aside or taking them lightly, asking Him to be clear. (What a great response to the voice of God.) Well, on this day He did make things clear. It started at church with an exortation for guys who had been thinking about going to Men's study to go this Monday for an event. "Hmm...okay God, maybe that is You, but You can do better than that," I thought. "Sure thing, son."

The sermon was on Acts 10, where the Lord speaks to Peter and to Cornelius in separate ways and brings them together, confirming His hand in their lives; a great model for how God confirms things. After service, a man that was moving to take a job challenged me out of the blue about young male leadership in the church. POW/BAM/SMACK. Seriously, I can't put to words how it hit me (onomatopoeia was a feeble attempt :). Oh yeah, my walk with the Lord isn't just about me. Oh yeah, God has shaped me to be a leader. Oh yeah, I'm part of the body, and what I do or don't do affects the entire body. It was as if something I had been blinded to was revealed, something I've known yet had lost sight of. At that point I knew that I needed to plug into that bible study and make myself available to Him.

Some needed confession. Even at this point, I still had some uneasiness. Part of it, which sounds pathetic and needs at least some explanation, is I didn't want to give up playing basketball on Monday nights. Now, I've told the Lord that I would give up anything if it's what He wants, and I believe that is true. The catch seems to be that if there's something I don't want to give up, He really has to convice me, and I suddenly have a harder time hearing Him. Funny how that works. After church, I went to the Y and played ball. And I do admit that after seeing that I could play Sundays instead of Mondays, I was more willing/desiring to go to the study. At first I wanted to fight this ("I should choose to sacrifice and be honorable, etc."), but I realized it was a sorry pride issue, and if the Lord throws me a bone, I'll take it.

In the evening, I attended a prayer and worship meeting at the beach with friends from Intervarsity. I almost didn't go, but God wanted me there and made it happen. During the meeting, Dan, the UNF IV staff worker, strongly exhorted us about leading our generation. I just sort of smiled and looked out at the ocean. How am I supposed to respond to God after getting so frustrated when I rebel and beg for clarity, and He grants it? Goodness. There were some other things that I won't detail that supported the whole thread of the day. We serve an incredible God.

So, tonight I'm going to the study. And I'm kind of excited about it. As has happened before, once I said "Yes" to the Lord, everything (spiritually and emotionally speaking) fell back into place. Peace has been restored. I knew all along this would be the result, I just didn't know how long it would take or what it would exactly look like. I do hope to say yes sooner next time, though.

So, to summarize, I became very self-centered and lazy. I forgot that I am not my own, and that I am here to fill a purpose, one greater than just knowing God personally. There's a void to fill, and I need to step up. The world needs servants and leaders. And I've told God the same words Isaiah did, "Here I am Lord. Send me." (Is 6:8) And in His faithfulness "...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil 1:6b)

Praise God.

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