Since I’ve been trying to update my blog every couple of days, today is the day. The only problem is, I could not think of anything to write. I started a whole bunch of ideas, but none of them made it past the first paragraph.
I went for a nice long walk, but instead of enjoying the beauty of the day, I looked around at things trying to find inspiration. Oh, a pile of snow still hanging on weeks after our last storm. That’s kind of like us, if we stay unified we don’t melt away, we just get gross and dirty… Umm, no. How about that plastic bag which says “Please Recycle” caught in that tree branch. Something about our words and actions not matching…? The college kid who stopped and asked directions on Blue Stone Hills Drive who was looking for Bluestone Drive. Something about how adding to the truth makes you utterly lost even though it sounds similar… Yeah, that’s a stretch!
It was still a pretty day and a good walk. I live in the Shenandoah Valley, surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Even with the trees bare of leaves, it is a beautiful part of the world. Just being healthy enough to walk up and down the steep hills along my route is a gift from God. Looking out to the mountains, listening to lovely music, exercising my heart and lungs, even trying to help the lost young man, all of this was good. But a lot of the joy of just being out there was taken away by my own odd agenda. I came back home disappointed with no deep thoughts.
I decided to start re-reading Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Whoa. I had spent an entire hour in God’s gorgeous creation, in the midst of some of the works of His hand. But, instead of thanking Him, instead of talking with Him, instead of enjoying His presence, I had been consumed with finding something to make me look brilliant. It was a humbling realization, to say the least!
And, it got me thinking about how I relate to God. I have a lot on my mind these days. I am preparing to move to the Dominican Republic to answer His call to serve Him there. I have a lot to do before that happens. I need God to help me. I need Him to provide the financial means to make this possible. I need Him to help work through all the little details included in this big change. I need Him to act in and through me.
But… do I recognize I just need God for His own sake? Ouch. I am starting to realize I am treating God as if He is there to make this happen for me. Now, that’s not all bad, because truly, none of it will happen without Him. I don’t think it’s a sin to ask for Him to be in every aspect of this.
But, I am noticing a subtle shift in my relationship with God which is troubling. The only thing I seem to talk with Him about these days is “my” stuff. And the more it’s all about me, the less inclined I seem to be to spend time with Him. It’s slowly becoming a chore, not a joy. Hmmm…
When was the last time I read the Bible and spent time with Jesus just for the joy and wonder of coming near to Him? How often are my quiet times directed by my own agenda? My ‘holy to-do list’ of prayer requests and petitions. Am I reading the Bible to glean insight and information, or to spend time in the presence of God? It is certainly not a sin to do these things! But, something is wrong, something is missing.
The question for me today is, what will I do about this? How do I shut off all the things running through my brain so I can once again find my joy in Christ alone? See what I just did? I just made it all about me again, didn’t I? Instead of starting a new ‘to-do’ list of Improving My Relationship with Jesus perhaps I need to start by stopping. Stopping and confessing that things between us are not good, but I don’t know how to fix it.
I praise God that in His perfect love and grace He is revealing this to me. The very fact that He did has given me hope that He will lead me back to Him. Oh, Father, create in me a clean heart! In Your Son’s love, heal this divided heart! Teach me once again to find my joy and strength in You. Teach me once more how to love You!