Fight For It

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“You’re so lucky”, she said as we sat on a bench just out of the wind. “Working for a Christian company, everything you do is about God, I’m forever battling to find a spare 5 minutes to even think about Him. You must’ve grown so much.”

The conversation moved on quickly, but her words stayed lodged in my brain. And as they sat there, an uncomfortable thought began to float to the surface from the depths in which I had hidden it.

You’re a fraud.

I wasn’t ever battling to find time with Him.
I couldn’t even really be bothered. 

Welcome to the sinful reality of a fallen heart, one which readily talks about God in all of His glory in public, but behind closed doors all too easily settles for a passive faith, for mediocrity. Silently riding on the back of other people’s experiences, secretly frustrated, but unwilling to face up to the reality of an ever-cooling relationship with its King.

And I wonder why feeling discouraged has become an all too familiar companion.

Even in a distinctly Christian context, it’s so easy to settle for a passive faith. You might be a small group leader, studying at Bible college, or even leading a church. It doesn’t matter how insulated by Kingdom people and culture you are - you must actively fight, daily, for your relationship with God.

Whatever keeps me from the Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be. Whatever engages my attention when I should be meditating on God and things eternal does injury to my soul.
— A. W. Tozer

My gut reaction to Tozer’s quote is to dismiss him as being ridiculously extreme.

Those things aren’t my enemies, they’re just things. Life gets busy sometimes, I’ll get back to the study tomorrow, I’ll pray for them in the morning.

But the sun sets, rises, and my quiet times with God are nudged away again and again. I might flick through the Bible to appease my conscience - but in all honesty, it’s something to tick off the list, my mind is all too often elsewhere. 

Before I know it, days have passed since I last sat face to face with my Father and spoke. Those glorious conversations have faded into sheepish weekly pilgrimages - sporadic and disinterested. If He’s meant to be the love of my life, how can His name feel so foreign in my mouth? How is it that I don’t know what to say? How did it get so bad so quickly?

Perhaps Tozer wasn’t wrong after all.
Perhaps those things weren’t quite as innocuous as I had first imagined.

Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.
— Hebrews 12:1

I’d never noticed it before, but a friend recently pointed out a slight nuance in this verse that I had totally overlooked. Sin is not the only hindrance mentioned. There are other weights too, other entrapments which prevent us from running the race set before us. Other distractions which may appear harmless, yet which ensnare us nonetheless.

Distractions which I had eagerly embraced - welcome excuses to avoid investing in a relationship which I didn’t feel gave me as much as I wanted. I wilfully allowed them to lead me by the hand away from the one space I was created for. 

And yet.

‘Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’
— Joel 2:12

And yet, He calls out to me even now.
And yet, He invites me back into that intimate place. The one I’ve avoided. The one He never left.

Me, as I am, in spite of my rejection and laziness. Even now. 
I crumble. 

It’s times like this that the pain of my rebellion slaps me in the face, that I marvel at His capacity to forgive. Mercifully, He knew I would do this, and yet He still seeks me out. Somehow, in His overwhelming love, He still wants to meet me, to see me, to talk with me, even now. 

How can I not be moved by that? 

Sometimes, admitting how far away from Him we have walked is hard. We’re scared of acknowledging it to ourselves and others, we’re scared of the implications, we’re scared of what it means. It’s more comfortable to just continue dabbling with the truths of the gospel, burying our heads in the sand, engaging with God when we have to, than it is to stop and hold a mirror up to our lives. But until we do, dissatisfaction, loneliness and frustration will be our constant companions. 

I’m tired of making excuses.

I’m tired of avoiding the conversation I know needs to be had, I’m tired of doing injury to my soul. Today, I might not be perfect, but I choose to strip away those weights I have been strapping to my back for too long. I choose to come before Him, as I am, even now, and be honest. The reality is that it’s going to be clumsy, and I might just feel a little bit awkward, but as the words fall out of my mouth, He will meet me there in His amazing grace.

He is so gentle and kind and patient. He is the Father who crafted my very being, who knows my exact form, who is jealous of my time, who longs for me to be in His presence. He is the good Shepherd who left the 99 in order to seek out that one lost soul, the Father who ran out to welcome back his lost son. And despite our rebellion He welcomes us back too, even now.

Go and meet Him.

 
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