SPIRITUAL DOLDRUMS

It’s been a hard couple of days for me as has been the last month or so. I’m the spiritual doldrums. In nautical terms that the place near the equator where the winds are really too calm to fill the sails of a ship. For me it’s where I am not ‘feeling’ the wind of God’s Spirit. Cranky, tired, prayer-less, and sometimes just want to quit the whole faith thing.

Then I feel guilty as though I am not pleasing God by faith and actions. I want to crawl up with a good book, not necessarily the Bible, and just hide. Maybe you have known that feeling. Oh, I have a few good friends who are supportive, even loving me unconditionally but sometimes it’s not enough.

So I think, ‘what’s God’s take on me at the moment?’ That’s where Grace comes in. And by grace in these circumstances I don’t mean that I win the lottery or that things change a whole lot for me. Grace is something different.

Grace is God’s love for me when I was spiritually dead, lost, and out of touch with God. Jesus didn’t wait for me to ‘get it together’ before he went to the cross. I read in the Bible that Christ is even at this moment praying for me before God. (Romans 8) “Father,” I can just hear him, “here goes Gaffga again.” Then God’s loving action kicks in to remind me I am loved even when I am lost.

It’s like Mackenzie in THE SHACK saying to Jesus, “I feel so lost” and Jesus answers, “Don’t worry. I’m not lost.”

So today I am trusting Jesus to be the pioneer of faith. Yeah, I am way back in the procession following him but he won’t let me go. As people say, ‘it’s not my faith that saves me. It’s the faithfulness of Jesus.’ I remember that and I am held in hopefulness.

Listen, you don’t have to be an ‘on top of the world’ person to be a believer. Lots of people who follow Christ are depressed and even despondent at times. Like Job they don’t necessarily blame God but they don’t like life either. It’s good then when a friend comes along side to just ‘be’ there. Sometimes the silence is good. It’s in that silence that God can speak. Sometimes we just wait for a gentle wind to inflate our sails. That’s where we trust the faithfulness and love of Christ for us. It’s not a happy go lucky trust but rather a calm inner sense that God is ‘for us’. That God will work things to the good.

I was reading Charles Spurgeon the other day. Let me quote him here:

“May I therefore urge upon any who have no good thing about them- who fear that they have not even a good feeling, or anything whatever that can recommend them to God- that they will firmly believe that our gracious God is able and willing to take them without anything good to recommend them and to forgive them spontaneously, not because they are good, but because HE is good.”

So today I trust in the goodness of God. My trust is small but the faithfulness and love of God are great.

But that’s all I can write today. “Father into thy hands I commend my spirit.” That’s grace.

Taking it for granted.

So I have been thinking that the reason many folks, including myself, don’t get the whole ‘love of God’ thing is that we take for granted God’s love. That love thing is what God does, doesn’t he? What’s the big deal? But the big deal is that we have little idea of what God’s kind of love really means; that even while we turned our backs on him he still loved us enough to send his only Son, Jesus to die for us. He did that while we were his enemies.

Imagine in war where one soldier is taught to give up his life for his fellow soldier. That’s often the instinct of a soldier or maybe it is from the kindness of his heart that he throws himself on a grenade to protect his friend. That’s all well and good but would this same soldier give his life for his enemy? That’s what God does for you and me. Somehow we bought the idea a long time ago that we weren’t really that bad so it didn’t take much for God to love us. Listen I would break down and cry if a friend saved my life. But if I am somehow held hostage and one of my captors gave up his life so I could escape well I would be daily grateful, more than words can say, for that man. Do we not know that’s what God did for us when he grabbed us from the jaws of hell to rescue us and make us into his friends?

Imagine your spouse leaves you to be with another partner, cashes out your bank account, and pretty much ruins your life. And then down the road a few years later he or she comes back to you to ask for forgiveness. How easy would it be to love him or her? That’s what God did for us. Took us back. Read the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. How grateful would that wayward spouse be upon being welcomed back and loved?

Suppose you are walking down the street and some guy comes up behind you and beats you half to death and steals your money. You end up in ICU in some downtown hospital. Later the guy  shows up at the door of your room and asks for forgiveness. You not only forgive him but you ask him to be your best friend and come and live with you. That’s the kind of love God showed his enemies, even the ones who beat his Son to death. I can only imagine the gratitude the aforementioned criminal might have each day for his earthly savior. Read how Isaac Watts, hymn writer and pastor from the 1700’s put it:

  1. When I survey the wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.
  2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
    All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.
  3. See from His head, His hands, His feet,
    Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
    Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
    Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
  4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all.

 

Those last two lines really impact me. I owe not only my praise but also my whole life to this God who loves me so. Actually you could read the whole hymn and discover the amazing reality of God’s love poured out for us and poured into our hearts. Let it stir up our hearts to service and praise for the Lord God who loves us so. Maybe it’s why people have crucifixes to be able to sit and gaze upon the figure of Christ (not an idol) and then contemplate what he did for us.

That’s what love is all about. Not that we loved God but that he loved us first when we were lost, in the abyss of sin and he threw us a lifeline. Every day I want to be amazed at this love and remember how much he loves me. Not just the world but also each and every one of us to the nth degree. Remember how the song goes HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW.