Several months ago, I got to a place where I grew weary of doing good. Not that I was out to do bad, mind, but, basically, I lost heart in doing what was placed in my hands. I suppose in Christianese one would call it spiritual burnout. But, whatever we labellers desire to call it, I grew tired - so much so I put aside 'works'.
In my weariness, I pulled back from church more, then soon pulled back from friends, which eventually caused me to pull back from God. The latter, more than anything, is what has recently brought me back to Him. I missed intimacy with God. I missed hearing His voice in my heart. I missed His direction, His guidance, His presence, His company and so on. I missed Him, and I missed what He and I had. He was my best friend, in whom I had entrusted all of my heart, and I had put a wall between us, breaking communication with Him. So I started praying that He would draw my heart back to Him and help revive it and our relantionship.
A couple of weeks ago, at a really low point - which I now know to be the struggle of the flesh wanting to remain where it was and the spirit longing to be reunited with God - I kinda of slumped before God and groaned, "I surrender. I'm coming home..." That morning, I wrote the poem "I'm coming home." (Original posting)
Donna Keevers Driver
God, I’m coming home…
You let me wander, You let me roam;
I lost my way, but now I’m coming home.
I am the prodigal who went astray:
Weary of doing good, I lost my way.
I let go of trust, I let go of faith,
I gave up hope, and lost the strength to pray.
I found refuge in a shelter not yours,
love became a burden and life a chore.
Sometimes I would walk, and sometimes I would run,
until I fell upon my face, wondering what I’d done.
Now here I am, with grave remorse,
seeking to have my heart set back on course.
Here I am, God, running back to You,
knowing You never left me and Your love remains true.
Thank you, God, for covering my shame,
for allowing Your Son to take the blame -
Thank you, Jesus, for making a way
back to the heart of God and the shelter of faith.
Yes, I wandered, far from the great love I’d known,
but here He stands, welcoming me back home…
So many faces we knew from our early Christian days were there; faces that immediately opened up the doors of my weary heart and reminded me of deep love. Oh, how I had missed these faces - all of them! I just hadn't realised it until that morning. Once, with a heart wounded, I walked away to take on bitterness and to struggle with unforgiveness. Now I returned without any wounds - not even a scar to be played with - and no feelings of bitterness or of being wronged in any way upon my heart. God had worked more on my heart in the past 15 years than I had realised. Oh, how my heart rejoiced over this!
Tim (hubby) and I have been to many churches over the years, but never had we bonded more with anyone than we had with those who still remained at this church. It truly felt like we had come home...
After shared hugs and earnest love, we joined in with the worship music - which was always a treat at this church - and I was virtually flawed when they sang "I surrender..." :) "Only God could arrange that," I inwardly smiled, my heart both warming and softening, even though I stood there telling myself not to cry. :) Then the sermon... Wow... It was about the church being a family. And something along the lines 'of going to church should be like coming home' was stated and it was all I could do to stop my mouth from dropping open. :)
Only God could've worked that out. Only God could've given me the peace needed to return to my old church that day, when that message was being preached. It was as though He orchestrated the whole thing, and, no doubt, He did. :) What a sweetheart He is... :)
The following Sunday we returned, and during an offering message, the following verse was shared:
New International Version (NIV)
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Unlike Simon in the above verse, I never added on, "But because you say so, I will let down my nets," or "But because you say so, I will keep doing 'it'." Rather, I continued on with growing weary to the point of giving up. (And don't forget, Simon had already washed his nets! He had already packed up and was ready to quit for the day. But, at Jesus' prompting, in he went again...)
As I said earlier, in growing weary, eventually I lost intimacy with God. NOT His fault by the way. In fact, even though I was walking away, I knew He was there/here. I knew He still loved me. I knew He was covering me with grace. I believed He would guide me back, and take me back, in the blink of the eye if I reopened my heart to that.
...Don't get me wrong, I never stopped believing in God, or in Jesus. Rather, I just got weary of doing works, then lazy, then distracted, then offtrack, then distant... until I felt I couldn't ask anything of Him.
Through this, I came to see why God hates sin so much. It's not what we do so much that He hates, I don't think, but the division sin brings between us and Him. And that not by His will. It's simply a case of 'cause and effect'. You know, like with gravity: You toss something in the air, it will fall back down. It's the law of gravity. No one controls it. And with sin, you 'do this' and 'that' will happen; sin leads to death - be it the death of your hopes, your dreams, your heart, your relationship with God, your marriage, your spirit, and so on... Not God's fault, but a consequence brought on by the law of sin. In the Bible, He gives us the 'heads up, guys; do that and the law of sin will cause this to happen.' His love tries to protect us from that. He's not trying to ruin our fun.
Through my wandering, I came to see that God still remained open to me, He still kept me in His hand and in His heart, but I now felt too unworthy to go there, so I avoided His heart, hand and presence. And this - my 'I'm not worthy' attitude - caused me to lose communion with Him.
Taking on this attitude, "I'm too sinful; I've wandered too far; I am unworthy," eventually causes you to believe God can never love someone like you, and you start to believe every other lie the enemy constantly throws at you, until you dare not seek God's help or company; which causes you to break communion and contact with Him, which places you in a position where your heart can no longer hear His, which leaves you not trusting, or not believing in His love for you. And that, I believe, breaks His heart. That's what He can't stand above all else, the loss of intimacy and trust between us and Him; the loss of your loving relationship with Him... He wants a relationship with us, but sin causes guilt and shame which, as it was with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, has us hiding from Him; it has us ending our relationship with Him. But even then, God doesn't stop loving you... He just aches for your return. Yes, He'll let you go if that's what you want, but He wills you back to Him because He loves you.
God never stopped loving me, though I wandered from Him. He never stopped covering me with His grace. He never stopped calling me back to the depths of the wonderful intimacy He desires to have with us. But I just couldn't go there, because I felt too sinful; too worthless; too unacceptable. However, He accepted me back into His arms and presence as soon as I repented (said sorry - which softens our heart) and let Him back in. And He offered no judgement or condemnation on my return. (The first thing you're likely to hear from God in such a moment is a huge sigh of relief - and that as He reaches out to hug you to Himself.)
Anyway, there I sat at my new old church, :) so glad to be with these friends again, knowing it was God who had called me here, and back to Him. And when the above verse was shared, I knew He was telling me that, prior to my wandering off, He had been asking me not to give up, but, rather, to try again; to cast out my nets again, for, as it is with all of us - through whatever giftings and talents He's given us - the task of 'fishing for people' needed to be done.
...So, taking all this to heart - or, should I say: Having all this revive my heart, I sought to have the intimacy between God and I restored completely. However, I instantly fell into an old habit - one I had that led me to grow weary: As soon as I would start to read the Bible, I would start thinking about blogging. I would instantly go to 'works' mentality. Then I would find myself frustrated when the blog wouldn't come together for me, which forced me to put it aside. Now, here I was, seeking that intimacy with God, having been restored to Him, baring new frustrations! It was an instant reminder of what it felt like to have a weary heart.
With this frustration, I whined to God about wanting to share my testimony again - for I write from experience - and He enabled me to see that I was making our relationship about works again, rather than the relationship we shared, which would again see me growing weary of doing good, and leave me wondering why I bother. Even though I was thinking of "casting my nets out" for the sake of 'people' (whoever God was seeking to reach through anything I may write) I instantly forgot the lesson my latest wandering was to teach me. THE most important thing is my relationship with Him - not works.
I had to smile at my stupidity when I realised I had stepped straight back in to old habits - and that because this showed me how far He had brought me, and that He had not caused but allowed me to wander so I could get this works mentality from between us. It was separating me from God. He had to get rid of it, one way or another, to save our relationship.
So, now, on the other side of this lesson, as I read/listen to the love-story we call a "Bible", my heart knows God is saying, "Put that task aside for a moment; there will be time enough to work later. For now just sit with Me awhile..." and that because He wants to pour out His love upon me. He wants to enjoy a relationship with His child; not give orders to His worker.
When we allow an intimate relationship to grow between us and God, He seeks to cover us and fill us and embrace us and encourage us and strengthen us with His love, which fills our hearts and pours out from us to those we cross paths with. When our relationship with God is above all else, even above our works done in faith, weariness of heart is kept at bay. The work is not a chore, but an honour; a pleasure; a desire...
First He loves us, then we love Him, and that love is passed on to others and becomes the foundation of our works... If we don't get the love from Him first, we can, and often do, slip into a works mentality, and we make our walk, church, relationships, and so on, all about duty and legalism... and that's not what Jesus suffered and died for...
If your heart has grown weary, God gets it. He understands. But He asks that you understand something, too: Please understand that He hasn't given up on you. He loves you with all that He is - no matter what you've done, no matter where you're at...