Monday, July 5, 2010

A Humbling Sent By God

"That's not going to happen to me."

This was my thought somewhere around 2 months ago. I was listening to a sermon by John Piper, & he was talking about how important it is to be in God's Word each & every day. In the midst of this, he recounted how even though he is consistently & faithfully in God's Word, he has gone through seasons of dryness. Seasons where he felt far from God, seasons where the Word seemed lifeless to him, even though he was reading it faithfully. This seemed like such an impossibility, that I thought it would never happen to me. I've been a Christian since my teens, but I'm embarrassed to say that I have never read through the entire Bible. But this year has been different. I resolved to read the Bible this year all the way through & finally found the key for me in reaching this goal: a Bible reading plan. I've been entirely faithful to it ever since the last week of December, & have never felt closer to God. My communion with Him has never felt so unwavering. So, it was unthinkable to me that even in the midst of my Bible reading that I could feel disconnected from God & lifeless. Well, God showed me.

What happened? Life did. Michael's grandmother got sick & all of our time was spent at her hospital bedside. My Bible reading fell by the wayside. And stayed there. John Piper said in that sermon that he firmly believes that these dry times are ordained by God. That God actually leads people not just through those times, but to them. Believing in God's complete sovereignty, I also believe this. Don't misunderstand me, though.  I also believe in human responsibility; Scripture clearly teaches both doctrines.  So, yes, I do believe that God brought me to this dry season, but I also hold myself responsible for laying aside my daily communion with Him in the midst of life's trials & busyness. You know what I think? I think I got too big for my britches. I got to thinking that I was doing something great by being so faithful to my Bible reading. And there was my folly. I forgot that God is the one who gave me the desire & dedication to read His Word each day. It wasn't me. And God had to show me this. He had to humble me.

This has been a painful lesson for me. Not because my pride has been wounded. It hasn't been. No, this has been painful because of the separation that I've felt from God. My Bible has lain day after day off to the side, unused. I've not communed with God in prayer. As a matter of fact, when I tried to pray, I felt like there was a darkness surrounding me. I pictured myself reaching upwards toward God, but couldn't find Him. Until yesterday. Yesterday, the one word that best describes God & my relationship to Him washed over me, & the barrier that seems almost palpable was riddled with cracks. That word? Father. Suddenly, He wasn't some far-off, aloof Almighty Sovereign (although He is that, minus the "far-off, aloof" part). Like a shot of light piercing the darkness, I remembered that He's my compassionate, loving Father. One of my favorite pictures of Him in His Fatherhood is of me, his daughter, curling up in His lap while He strokes my hair & pours out His love on me. After all, if earthly fathers can do this in their imperfection, why can't He in His infinite perfection? This is what sprang to mind. The darkness lost its stranglehold.

Then, today the barrier was torn down by one simple song. Music has always spoken to me; God has always ministered to me through song. And He did so today in a Sojourn rendition of an Isaac Watts song. The part that finally ripped down the barrier & poured in hope contained these words:

"May Your power rest on me
You are strong, when I am weak.
I can bear all things
When temptation springs,
For You sustain me all my days.

Though the trial still goes on,
Your grace will be my song!
For I can bear all things
When temptation springs,
For You sustain me all my days!
May Your power rest on me."

It's not over yet. Another thing that Piper has said, in quoting John Owen, is that our flesh fights to keep us from anything spiritual. In the front of a Bible given to Him by His mother was written, "This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book." My flesh fights to keep me from God's Word, for in that Word it hears its death knell. My flesh cannot win, it cannot hold sway as long as God wields His Sword to slay it. So, my prayer now is not that I'll be strong enough & faithful enough to read His Word, but rather that He will give me the burning desire & strength & faithfulness to read His Word. Amen.


Lisa said...

I'm glad to know that you are feeling God's presence again. Your comments are a good reminder to me that - just because I am reading my Bible daily now, communing with God, and enjoying a closeness - it all comes from God...even the desire to come to Him. That is humbling. Love you!

Leah said...

I read this yesterday and it really hit me..."let the bones that You have broken rejoice" (ps. 51:9) What God is this that we serve? One the loves brokenness and a heart that confesses that we really don't have it all together.

The Boyds said...

Thanks for your prayers, Mama. And for your suggestion to read Piper's "When I Don't Desire God". I've started it & it's already helping. I love you, too.

Leah, thank you for your words of truth. I love being pointed back to God.