From time to time someone approaches me complaining of the inability to pray, or senselessness in Bible reading, or lack of interest in church and Family events.
These symptoms can come with a rebellious heart. We know in our hearts that God wants something, but we are refusing to obey Him. We refuse to lay down the gauntlet and stop fighting Him. Stubbornness will reap leanness of spirit.
But other people have no known rebellion in their hearts. They are sincerely, openly crying out to God, but there is no spiritual energy towards Him…nothing is “happening.” Week after week, month after month there is spiritual desolation.
We need not be afraid to admit these times of desolation. Great men in the Scriptures passed through such times. Look at the struggles of the prophets, of Moses and Abraham, of King David. And in the New Testament, the great Apostle Paul admits to great spiritual stress.
Somehow we’ve gotten it in our heads that living the Christian life is a straight line upward, a broadening utopia, a life of greater ease and strength. Perhaps this is fall-out of the Prosperity Gospel that permeates our airwaves. Perhaps it is the sequel to the American Dream. Whatever the cause of this notion, it is an unbiblical notion.
The Christian life begins with faith… honesty, surrender, yielding. And it continues in that same vein… honesty, surrender, yielding. All of which is absolutely grounded in the Father’s Love for us and the ability of the Lord Jesus to bring us to the Father.
The sinner comes to the Lord Jesus as Savior, honest with himself about his inability to perform and treasuring in himself the warmth of the Father’s love. It is a new experience…this blending of personal inability, utter weakness, complete desolation with the Savior’s strength, the Father’s love, and complete sufficiency.
I think of our flights to Ethiopia. Every time we board an airplane, we are stating implicitly that we trust the “love,” the good-will of the pilots in the cockpit. And when those big jet engines roar with great power at take-off, we are trusting the obedience of those engines to the commands of the pilots, and the strength of those engines to do what the pilots expect. And there is not much sweeter moment than to nestle down in the seat, the lights of the cabin turned down, pillows and blankets in just the right spot, and doze off to the roar of the engines, confident in their ability to hold us high over the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Christian life begins in faith…and it continues in faith. It begins in honesty, surrender, yielding…and it continues in honesty, surrender, yielding. Just as I step onto the airplane trusting the pilot’s good will and the engine’s strength in obedience, so I continue the whole flight trusting the pilot’s goodwill and the engine’s strength in obedience.
So if today you are suffering spiritual fatigue, you are suffering the natural consequence of trying to fly on your own, and it is just a matter of time before you hit the cold waters of the Atlantic. Now, as always, is the time to rest in the goodwill of the Father, lie back and bask in His love, look for His companionship in Life….and to yield to the ability of the Lord Jesus to carry you spiritually. Trust His work for you. Allow the Holy Spirit to minister medicines to your tired soul, to fluff your pillow, to stroke your back. Listen to His sweet voice soothing your tired, hurting, pummeled soul.
And when it is time, He will bring back into circulation. You will read the Scriptures with enjoyment and life. You will sing the hymns with meaning. You will care for others with warmth. You will have a spring in your step as you go about your duties. But underneath all of this is the firm knowledge, the renewed awareness, that in us dwells no good thing, and apart from Him we can do nothing.
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Except revel in His love and trust His sufficiency.
January 15, 2010