I believe that my walk with God can be well described like a swinging pendulum that is slowing down, losing momentum and in the end will come to rest in the middle. This can be used to describe my time abiding in Christ- the spiritual highs and lows. It can also used to describe my desire for strict moralism (legalism) and emotional relationship.
In thinking about abiding, I find myself in times that I am drinking in the Word and in meditation on those words and feel that my understanding of God is growing; that is one of the apexes. Other times I feel that I am empty, that I am in a desert and every thing I try to do to jump start growth is fruitless; prayer seems unheard, fallen on deaf ears. This is the other apex of the swing.
Then there are the time in between. Those times are the sweet spot. I am reading the word, praying and meditating, and those things are resulting in fruit in my own life. They are the times that I am coming off the a high of intense study of the Word or emotional event or it the time where I am coming out of the desert where I have been tempted and tried and been through suffer, but the rain has started to fall and I feel that connection has been restored.
Though out life, I am swinging back and forth, never quite settling in the middle; however, the swinging becomes slower and less sudden shift of direction. In my maturing I have begun to enjoy and thank God for the high times and thank God persevere through the desert time. I understand from past experiences that God is not gone in the deserts but that he is calling me to persevere, to build character, and in the end, to have hope and be more conformed to the image of God. This is accomplished in the process of sanctification…
Similarly, I go through desire to adhere to a strict moral code in order to follow God. I get discouraged trying to live this life, because living perfectly in light of the law is impossible- even Paul declares that- we were never meant to live perfectly in light of the law. But the Law was called to understand our… my depravity and my need for Christ’s righteousness and God’s forgiveness.
When I am disparate at my inability to live perfectly in light of the law, I swing wide to the other side and embrace God’s all encompassing love and grace- a purely new-agey spiritual view of God. Yes, God’s love and grace is extreme important, it is foundational for God’s salvation. But it is easy to disregard the depth and seriousness of sin with this view and it is easy to start justifying sin. Paul repeated tells us that we are not to abuse God’s grace; we are not to presume upon God’s unending Grace for us. We cannot live in this place of love wins and forget that we are called to pursue righteousness. So I have to settle in the middle, to call the swinging between moralism and new-agey spirituality presumption on God’s love and grace.
I would love to say that there is a correlation between these two examples of swinging, but there is not. However, I do think both are related to the sanctification process. As we grow and mature in our faith and walk with God, the more settle we become in our times of abiding and in our desires for new-agey spirituality and moralistic relationship with god. More so, we develop habits of scripture reading, prayer, and meditation which God can used to speak in to our live and conform us to God’s image…
It is in this swinging where I find brokenness- It is the thing that swings me from moralism to emotions or vise versa; to recognize that I am in the desert and I have been trying to live my life by myself. Brokenness for me is the recognition of my need for God in my depravity. It is the overwhelming waves of heaviness, physical stress, and lack of sleep letting me know some thing is not right in my heart, mind, or soul.
I experienced this earlier in the semester, I cannot remember if I shared it here, but I was just after the first round of midterms and I was feeling utterly defeated. I walked out of every test that week feeling like I had completely failed each test. The feeling of failure is was not true, I did fine on the exams, but it was a manifestation of all the things going on in my life- of my striving to do well on my own strength apart from God.
I remember praying for brokenness at many points in my short life, hoping that is would make me a more Godly man… Oh, what a dangerous prayer. The brokenness I have experienced was never that I hoped to experience, it was never in the places that I wanted to be broken but in the places where I wanted to protect. Does that make sense? Here is an example- “God, I want to be broken so that I may lean into you (but don’t you dare effect my sleep, health, wealth, or grades, or convict me of the habitual sins in my life. thank). Amen.” What is God suppose to use, some thing that I can ignore? No! Those thing that are listed in the parentheses are not inherently good nor bad, but they can easily become corrupted and perverse. God meets me where I am, where my heart’s desires lie, to beacon me to lift my eyes. I would pray this while in the desert, in hope that it was God speaking to me.
Brokenness is ugly and heart retching. But it is of our Christian walk, part of how the pendulum swings. How we respond to that brokenness may be a testament to the work of God in our lives. The spiritual disciples we foster help shape the way we respond to that brokenness.
~I pray that you lean into God, both in the good and bad, in understanding that trials and temptations will come, so that when you are tested, that you may grow in peace, grace. and love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.