Something has happened to me over the past few years. I struggle to find and maintain my joy in Christ. I have been perplexed for years, crying out to God, “Why? What is going on?” In the midst of this struggle we changed churches, I stopped singing on the worship team, I have had little to no involvement in women’s ministries after over ten years of involvement in various churches. Even my Bible study attendance has been sporadic when in the past, I was regularly doing two at a time. Now, you might read this paragraph and think, “Well, there’s your problem. You’re not DOING anything.” You would be partially right, but herein lies a paradox.
I haven’t been DOING as much because I haven’t felt led to do as much. For years I was feeling led to focus my energies at home. I also dealt with some health issues that kind of forced me to do less. Then, I started beating myself up for not being a “good enough” Christian; not doing enough, not using my gifts and talents for the edification of the church, not being faithful enough – not enough, not enough, not enough. I stopped seeking first His kingdom, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” -Matthew 6:33 NASB, and started trying to force the issue of service. Trying to do things He wasn’t calling me to, which only led to more frustration. Instead of pursuing peace, “…HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.” -1 Peter 3:11b NASB, I was pursuing righteousness by means of works, which is completely wrong. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” -Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB
“Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone,” -Romans 9:32 NASB
I’m not exactly sure how I got off track. It seems like it was a slow thing that just kind of creeped up on me. Little by little my heart became more and more troubled and fearful. I lost sight of the peace that Christ gave me. I misplaced it, if you will and I let my heart be troubled. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” -John 14:27 NASB.
The life of a Christian should be marked by peace, and not just peace, but all the fruit of the Spirit who dwells within us. But, it’s like any relationship. The less time you spend with someone, the less influence they have on your life. I was still doing my daily devotions, spending time in prayer and the Word, but the quality wasn’t what it used to be. My heart wasn’t completely in it like it was before. Things of this world pulled at me more.
Instead of going to God when I was stressed, I turned on the T.V. Instead of being content with what I had, I went shopping for something better. Retail therapy, we like to call it, but really it’s just plain consumerism. Not that shopping or watching T.V. are bad things in themselves. What needs to be questioned is the motivation. If we’re just trying to fill a void that can really only be filled by God, then our attempts will prove futile. As mine did. I turned off the T.V. and still felt frustrated. I got back from shopping with all my new goodies and felt momentary satisfaction, but as soon as the newness wore off, THAT was over.
True, lasting peace and satisfaction can only be found in Christ. True rest for our souls and lightness of heart come with the peace of Jesus. I think it’s time I stopped beating myself up and started seeking first the kingdom of heaven again. Being a Christian is not about doing as much as it is about being. Being with Jesus and being at peace. Everything else will fall into place from there. I forgot that for a minute (a really long minute!). I’m ready to rest again. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30NASB