I shared recently about how I felt as if I'd somehow missed Christmas...
I did miss celebrating Christmas for what it really is. But I think the issue goes deeper. What I really missed is Christ.
The last several months of my life have been marked by this feeling of loss, this feeling of missing Jesus. My daily bible reading has slacked off tremendously and my quiet times with the Lord... well, they have become virtually non-existent. I anger easily, I lose patience with my family, I'm snappy and on edge a great deal of the time. I haven't really enjoyed caring for my family as I once did. I don't laugh much anymore... I feel out of place somehow.
I suppose it sounds as if I'm depressed. But honestly, I don't feel depressed. My doctor says it's hormones, or a lack thereof. But I know better. I guess the world would say that I've lost touch with who I am... that I need to do some inner searching and find myself. Or maybe that I just need to do something for myself. That's it! I've spent all these years taking care of other people. Isn't it time I did something for me? Surely that is what will bring me to that place of fulfillment that I'm longing for.
Or will it? I think we all know the answer to that question. Searching inside me? No, I'm quite certain I won't find what I'm searching for there. The only thing I'll find in me is more of what I'm running from... selfishness, anger, vain ambition, greed, malice and poisonous pride. Yes, all those things and more are hidden in the deep recesses of my heart, prone to surface and rear their ugly heads if given the opportunity. Take time out for me? Isn't that the opposite of what Jesus tells us? We are to put aside self, take up His cross and follow Jesus. We are to die to self (daily) and serve others. The world would have us believe otherwise.
No, this is not depression and it has nothing to do with hormones. I wish it were that simple... a pill to fix it, to make everything alright. No, that's not it. I've been in this place before. Quite frankly, I've been in this place more than once, and what's worse is every time I've been here I've told myself I'd never come back. A place of spiritual drought, that's where I am. I have to ask myself, how did I get here AGAIN? It's like I keep going in circles -- growing in my relationship with Jesus followed by a falling away of sorts, growing, falling, growing, falling.
What I'm missing is Jesus in my life, or more specifically -- more of Jesus in my life. What I'm missing is His JOY! I once found joy in taking care of my family, in meeting the needs of and in serving others. I once found joy in dying to self and living for Christ. Where did it go?
Somewhere along the way I lost sight of the goal. I took my eyes off Jesus and began to focus on earthly things.
I saw a post on facebook this morning by David Platt. It said, " How true this is! And I've heard many preachers say how sad it is when you finally climb to the top of the ladder, only to realize that the ladder was against the wrong wall. I don't want that to be me!
I don't want to trade the eternal treasures my heavenly Father has in store for me for a few earthly trinkets. I don't want to come to the end of my days here on earth and realize that I've squandered the time I've been given. I want to live for Christ! I want to make a difference for Him! I want more of Him and less of me! I want to get out of this spiritual dry spell, and I want to stay out of it.
So, how do I do that?
Well, I'm not one for New Year's Resolutions because I fail terribly at keeping them. But, for me 2012 (and every year after that as long as the Lord sees fit to leave me here on earth) has to be first and foremost about Jesus. So to borrow a quote from Ann Voskamp: "Maybe a life needs change over and over again--that constant turning to God? Not so much resolutions but revolutions."
Maybe that's me? Maybe my life needs to be changed over and over again? Maybe I have to constantly keep turning to God? If so, these are not resolutions that I'm setting forth, rather they are revolutions--my turning back to God (again and again). In practice for me, it looks like this:
1) I must carve out time for Jesus. It's been said that you make time for what's important to you and excuses for what's not. For me, this has to be a "first thing in the morning" priority because by the end of the day, I'm too tired to even try. I don't know about you, but I usually fall asleep during my prayers... you know, it goes something like this... "Dear God, thank you for today and for the opportunity to serve you. Please forgive me for failing miserably in this area. Thank you for my family. Please bless and protect my family... zzzzzzzzzz..." Next thing you know I'm sound asleep. Yes, I definitely need to have concentrated times of prayer in the morning!
2) Not only must I spend time with the Lord in prayer every day, listening for His direction, but I also must spend time in His word. In the past I've just started at the beginning and told myself, "I'm going to read straight through the Bible this year." This shouldn't be hard, but somehow I manage to make everything hard. I never stay on track, and I'm ashamed to admit it, but I've never read the whole Bible, cover to cover.
This year I have a plan. I signed up for an account on YouVersion (it's free). There are several different reading plans to choose from, customized to help me read through the Bible in a year. It tracks what I've read and hopefully it will help me accomplish my goal.
3) Not only must I spend time with the Lord in prayer and in reading His word, but I must also spend time meditating on the scriptures and memorizing His word as well, hiding them in my heart. So not only do I have a plan for reading through the Bible this year, I also have a plan to memorize some passages of scripture.
4) This year I'm taking Ann Voskamp's Joy Dare. You can read about it here. It's a counting of God's blessings, a deliberate search for His blessings in your life. Deliberately thinking on what He's done for me, seeing how He manifests Himself to me, that is what helps keep my focus on Jesus.
I'm tired of going back and forth, wavering between sold-out commitment to God and half-hearted service to Him. I'm tired of being so close yet so far away. I'm tired of being comfortable, never knowing what it truly means to live for God, tired of settling for less than His best for me. I want to know Him more, to love Him more. No more trading heavenly treasures for earthly trinkets.
With His help and by His grace, 2012 will be a year of re-commitment.