So, I have my computer back and today is Sunday and I actually made it to church two weeks in a row, though Isaiah was sick (Scott took duty this morning) so it was just me and Noah. I’ve been having some conflicting feelings about church lately, and before I continue, let me tell you that 75% of my feelings are my own fault because contrary to what my brain is saying, my heart does love my church.
About six months ago we finally joined a new church, but in six months, we missed several times in October, the holidays were hectic, and my family traded illness all of January and February so our attendance has been spotty. But, I went today. I went today and I just felt bummed because while I know we are members of this church, it doesn’t feel like home yet. I don’t feel like family yet, and I so very much miss that feeling. God called us here right now, so I KNOW it is where I am supposed to be, but I think I am still in mourning. So, during the welcome I get all bummed and down on myself because I am not getting all the feels I want to get from my church (because, ya know, the church is there ALL for me…[please take note of sarcastic text tone here]). Yap, my selfish and very human heart made it ALL ABOUT me. Poor me because my kids have been sick left and right and I haven’t really been able to attend and I am not getting all those good feels I am SUPPOSED to get from church and it is all everyone’s fault because woe is me.
And then my pastor preached…and I shrunk lower and felt smaller and I was like “dude, do you have a hidden camera into my BRAIN? Because for real, you’re calling me out in front of ALL THESE PEOPLE” except that he never actually said my name and has no idea I am struggling with my faith i.d. at this very moment.
So, my pastor opens his mouth and ironically one of the first things he actually said was how people get annoyed at pastors who don’t tickle their ears (or something to that affect). Then he gets to the sermon which is all about the pitfalls a believer can fall into and how, just because we are Christian, we aren’t exempt from sin, nor are we exempt from the consequences (so no, you cannot do whatever you want, guys, sorry to bust your bubble). As a matter of fact, we are actually held to a higher standard because we are Christians, but we kind of like to gloss over that, don’t we. So, here I am waiting to get to my happy place and here my pastor is…calling me out! Sheshamundo. He is literally listing my sins off one by one like he has a daggum check list up there in the pulpit or something! YOU GUYS! I was feeling sheepish. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do NOT believe prosperity preaching benefits anybody, as a matter of fact, I am pretty vocal in my opposition to such a way of preaching, so WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?
Well, you see my pastor began listing these pits that Christians fall into and as he listed them, my heart was super convicted. Lately, my life has not turned out the way I planned it. Six months ago I planned on being somewhere else, living somewhere else, and doing something else, and all that didn’t and hasn’t happened so…apparently God didn’t listen to my commands (HUGE eye roll at myself here). So here are the pits he mentioned: drifting, doubting, departing, neglecting (also not listening, or not nourishing), and rejecting. Can ya guess how many I have fallen into in the last six months? Maybe not all at ONCE, or maybe so…I mean, I’ve really been feeling sorry for myself. And, you guys, I’ve been stuck. All this time I’ve been crying out comparing myself to Job (laughable, right) when all along I am obviously being my own worst enemy by drifting, doubting, departing, neglecting, and rejecting the living God.
I’ve been slowly but obviously drifting away from the guidance of the Lord. All this time I’ve been praying for guidance, but failing to hold His hand and take that guidance. The Word tells us God holds us in his “righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). His RIGHTEOUS RIGHT HAND! Jesus is holding us, guys. HE WANTS TO GUIDE US, but he can’t do that when we pull away! SO, I am lost for guidance right now because I have pulled away, not ever because He has left me. He has granted me grace; reprieve for the atrocities I commit daily, yet still he holds his righteous right hand out to me.
As if drifting isn’t enough, I doubt His plan as well. I have this grand scheme in my own mind as to how things are supposed to go and where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing and none of it is happening! Why? Well, maybe it’s because it isn’t what I am supposed to be doing. Or MAYBE it IS what I am supposed to be doing but I am going about it wrongly or it isn’t the right time. We know that all things work together for Him and all things he brings about are good, yet I doubt every step of the way lately. Well, no wonder I’ve drifted, I don’t even trust my own Creator apparently.
On top of these, I’ve also stopped feeding myself daily. I mean, honestly, I try to read the Word every evening after the kids are in bed; that’s my time. That is when I read best and listen best and pray best, but I’ve been selfish and lazy and SOMETIMES I remember a couple times a week lately. Yet I sit and wonder why I am starving? You know what is REALLY ironic? Noah’s memory verses for his school the last two months…one was “I am the bread of life, whoever believes in me will not go hungry” (John 6:35) and the other was “if anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink (John 7:37). I mean, how ridiculous is it that I can teach my children this, but not listen or do it myself? Seriously, that’s like teaching the multiplication table but not knowing one times one. It’s one of the most basic aspects of our faith; knowing that Christ can fulfill us; that He alone can satiate our appetites. And here I am ignoring it completely!
So onto the departing portion of tonight’s post; in this scenario he is actually talking of failing to produce fruit. Being an unproductive Christian; luke warm; lackluster; LAZY. You see, if you aren’t practicing the Fruits of the Spirit then you will not be producing fruit period. Think of the parable of the sower; you are that seed on rocky ground and a good wind can come along and blow you away. I was going through the motions, but I haven’t been productive, even in my own home. I even see a difference in my children’s behavior recently; there is a lack of respect for authority, a lack of dedication and diligence in their work, and a general bad attitude all around. Well, I can stand now and take some responsibility in this. I am with my children 24/7 (remember, we homeschool) so OBVIOUSLY they are going to pick up on my attitude and behavior and reflect it back. I am a barren tree right now, and hearing my pastor talk and realize the Lord was speaking to me through him, it made me sad. I am guilty, friends, and this is one of those times when I am face down thanking God for his grace because I am so obviously undeserving. I haven’t offered to serve in my new home church. I got all sad and sappy because nobody really knows me, but I haven’t taken a minute of time to know them either. If anything, I’d say I’ve been cold and standoffish and I’d be weary to try to know me.
And this brings me to the final pit Will (that’s my pastor’s name, I should have started using it a long time ago, really, because there are way too many pronouns LOL) mentioned; rejecting Christ. Christians, we KNOW what the right thing to do it, and we reject Christ when we CHOOSE not to do it. I have KNOWN I need to be in the Word and prayer daily in order to stay on God’s track for my life, and I disobeyed. I have known I need to become more involved in my church for fellowship purposes and accountability, I have disobeyed. I have known I need to be exhibiting the Fruits of the Spirit and instead of being peaceful and patient and kind, I have been quarrelsome, impatient, and cold. This isn’t the fault of our new church home, this is my sin alone. Something that my pastor said that really got me here was (totally paraphrasing) “if I send my son to die for you and you don’t act like you appreciate it, I’m not going to like you” (Wilson, 2017). If I were God, I wouldn’t like me right now, thank God I am NOT God and, again, thank God for grace. But think about that. That has been with me since I heard it (oh, by the way, I started writing on Sunday, I am just now finishing and it’s Wednesday).
Friends, it is so important to see this so you can see how sneaky Satan can be. I am an eternal optimist, until the last six months. I am a happy and smiling person, until the last six months. I am diligent in doing God’s work and being fruitful, until the last six months. Satan found a weakness and crept right in. He was just waiting, and I’m proof that it can happen to anyone. None of us is perfect and none is immune to the trickery of the evil one. If you asked any friend or family member about me I am certain they would tell you I am a “good Christian” and faithful and diligent and all that stuff; but I am also certain that they would tell you the last six months my behavior has been different. I’ve been sadder, more desperate, and lonelier. And you know what is so crazy to me? During the trials of trying to conceive children, I never became this way. During the trials of my husband’s deep addiction, I never lost faith. During the most terrifying cancer journey, I never lost hope. You know what pushed me over the edge? A simple rejection; that’s it. It isn’t even that big of a deal, really, but I’ve never experienced it before and made it a huge deal.
So, here I am. I am laying it out. I am showing my weakness and owning it, and I am asking that you pray for me and with me not only for me to overcome this, but for us all to remember that we must always repair the kinks in our armor.
What is your sin, friend? Do you have a loose tongue and say things without thinking? Do you stir up trouble for drama? Do you hold a grudge? Do you try to get even with everyone who has done you wrong? Let us band together, brothers and sisters, to stand against the enemy’s schemes.
I close tonight with the very first verse I ever learned upon becoming a Christian at the ripe age of 15:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11 ESV).