In my experience, seeking to live a life surrendered to Christ means God has to change all of you and that process often feels as though you are crawling with your face in the dust, fingernails torn, dirty and bleeding from just trying to hold on, just trying to scrape yourself another inch along the ground. Sometimes – sometimes more, sometimes less – you think you just cannot take it one more day, you feel like you will die right where you are. You have no energy to fight off the vultures circling above and your lips are so cracked and your throat so dry and parched you can’t even croak out “Jesus”. And even if you could make one last feeble cry or attempt to reach out, you have your suspicions that the Savior might have you right where you are supposed to be. There have been times when spiritual weariness finds me collapsed on the floor, my face pushed into the wood, with tears like rivers flowing from my eyes, my nose runny, a messy crumpled heap on the floor, completely undone. I’ve had times where weeks stretch into a month or more and the prompting I hear from the Holy Spirit is to just give up, to just lay in His presence. I went through just such a time before Christmas. I could not read any books of faith, I could not watch any sermons (and oh how I have loved watching sermons on my iPhone while cooking dinner or working out!). I tried to read a book about a hero of the faith while on the elliptical and I actually flung it away. I could not. I could not pray. I could not cry out. I could not even sing or praise or worship. The Lord commanded that I just lay it all down, spiritually and physically, and just lay, broken in His presence. Stop my weary striving. I realized my Martha heart had my focus on everything but the One who deserved all my attention. And by that I do not mean that Jesus wanted my attention so that I could do something different, some other task or prayer or reading or service. He wanted me to really just be still, relaxed, at rest, in His presence. For some minutes, the Lord showed me myself as a baby, loved and cared for; baby Julie. I was wrapped up and held in His arms. Oh the love the Lord has for us!! It washed over me as I felt myself being rocked in my spirit, rocked and comforted in His loving arms. And then I saw how my heart and my spirit were transformed by His gentle, drawing love; transformed from Martha into Mary. This time, my part will not be taken from me. What sweet relief to experience the truth of Jesus’ words: “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 11:28,29
Tonight I was thinking again about how often we struggle in our Christian walk. We struggle because we are not yet like Him and the change – leaving behind cherished dreams and treasured sins and ways of being – can feel like walking through fire or scaling a high mountain without any climbing gear. But the thrilling part – the addictive, soul soaring excitement part – is when we see how far we’ve come, how much He has changed us. And not only that we have been changed (for that alone would not be enough to compel us to weather these fiery trials); rather it is when we emerge from those times of greater intimacy when we have spent time alone with Him, getting to know Him more; those heady, drunk in the spirit times when your heart aches so greatly in His presence that you think it will almost rip right out of your chest if you cannot get closer to Him. Those times with the Lord, they ruin you for all other pleasures. Everything pales in comparison to knowing Him more. And then you realize: that’s how they did it! These great men and women of the faith, they drank from the well of intimacy with the Father and they experienced that which the apostle Paul spoke of when he said: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
Be blessed today.