I haven’t written in a bit but I find myself sitting on my couch, my inner angst, loud and unrelenting, speaking to my spirit in a mocking tone. Typically, I attempt to tune this out, although I’m no good at it. I think, “I have to write”. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that helps. My mind and my heart battle with one another, like a devil and an angel on opposing shoulders. Of course, the angel is right, but the devil presents a great argument. Am I that weak minded?
As I sit here, I hear my heart pose the questions: “How much do you want God? Does a Godly life really matter anyway? And be honest.”
I know God. I’ve met Jesus. I sense His Spirit. So then, why do I delay in my response? Do I really have to think about it? I hope my answer arrives swiftly. Sometimes, it does. Sometimes, it doesn’t. I hate that.
I know that my heart is the unfavorable opponent in this case. It’s selfish and yearns for satisfactions of the flesh. Most apparent though, is that the heart claims its feelings to be of utmost importance. However, my mind knows better. My mind has learned of a greater path to life and reminds me often to journey on with perseverance.
My heart, the usual questioner, finds my first response presented in two questions. I commonly have this inner dialogue because I surely don’t want to give God a forced reply. It’s not unbelief driving my questions, rather, an eagerness to give a well thought out answer in the end, and a Godly one at that. Perhaps I overthink. Perhaps not. Either way, these are questions that need resolution. Typically, there are two.
1: “Do I want God because I seemingly have to or because I want to?” (perhaps the better phrasing is “called to”)
2 ” Do I want an easy life or a meaningful life?”
I want God. I always have. To be fair though, I’ve known Jesus since I was five years old so I cannot recall life without Him. Occasionally, this brings me to doubt if I have ever sought Him with honest desperation at all. I meet people who have met Him in the darkest, bleakest, and seediest (I love that word, had to use it somewhere) of places and I think, “I’ve never been there before. How can I call unto God without experiencing life devoid of His presence? Does it make a difference to only know of the wide gate or to have actually followed down its path (Matt. 7:13)? Does that make the Christian journey more authentic? I must have taken God for granted,” and the list goes on. At these moments, my mind reminds me of the ridiculous nature of these questions because I do not want a life without Him. I don’t want to know how obscure those roads become. Nonetheless, I still find myself asking, “I’ve never known God like you and I’ve known Him my entire life!”
But have I really?
I don’t think God is someone to just be known. (Well, we can, of course, know Him but I mean it like this..) I think He is someone to be pursued and in the pursuit, you find Him and He will make Himself known. It really seems to me like most people “know” God or claim to, anyway. But knowledge of who He is just isn’t enough. The surrender of selfish ambitions to the will of the Father is the vital first stepping stone. With this in place, knowledge will follow suit.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
I have found in my life that there’s an array of knowledge, perhaps some wisdom, but I see fear often coming in last. I ask myself, “Do I believe these things because it was the only thing tought to me? Do I know Him because I feel like I have to? Do I know God enough to even understand the seriousness of actually fearing him?” Of course, I fear God, and I mean the holy kind of fear, defined as respect, awe, submission, etc. But do I submit to Him? Yes, sometimes. Sometimes not. But no longer do I underestimate the weight of His presence or the joy of submission. I have experienced emptiness. The “end of the line” kind of emptiness. The kind of shame you feel when you have grieved someone you respect, but multiplied exponentially. I find myself in a current place of heavy submission but it’s taken a very long while and certainly not without my fair share of pain.
Submitting to the King of all heaven and earth is quite unpleasant. It is certainly pleasant to think of the joy and freedom that will follow but in moments of uncertainty, it’s no fun at all. But that is when I pause and my mind thinks, “I want the meaningful life. I don’t want a life lived in selfishness. That’s miserable.” Trust me, I have lived life for myself and there’s no sweet ending, no fond reprise. I have felt lonely, depressed, apathetic, and almost stoic at times. I have frightened myself at just how calloused I have been. I can best describe it like this: selfishness is simply self- induced blindness. However, God’s grace finds us. It picks up, dusts us off, and once again, sets us down the road to life. Grace, in all its complexities, is simple evidence of the magnitude of divine love. How sweet the words written in the book of John, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” He wants our eyes open and our ears listening for His voice. It only takes a little faith to be liberated into a life of freedom. Because of this, I want Him desperately. And because I want Him, I must surrender; He calls me to it. Even as I write this, I realize how important those words are. I want Him to walk with me on that narrow road. I’m just an empty shell otherwise. It’s taken me a long time to learn to sit in stillness and know for certain that it’s only through Jesus. But it really is.
John 15: 1-8
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”