Thursday, July 12, 2007

Running away from God

As I was driving back from junior camp this past Saturday, I confided in my friend Dustin a (perhaps) startling truth that I have not experienced God's presence in musical worship more than once or twice in the past couple of years. Earlier in my life it was uncommon for me to sing along with my church without being ushered in to meet God, but things have reversed themselves. I still meet God in Bible study and prayer, but even there not quite as much as I once did. Dustin seemed fairly nonplussed about this admission, but actually saying it took me by surprise.
Two days later, I was reading through Bonhoeffer's "The Cost of Discipleship" which is simply rich in truth through and through. If you are familiar with the book, you know that one of Bonhoeffer's primary arguments is that the Church has in many ways watered down the Gospel to cheap grace. This argument is powerful, but one particular section of chapter two The Call to Discipleship was gripping me. It reads as follows:

"Are you worried because you find it so hard to believe? No one should be surprised at the difficulty of faith, if there is some part of his life where he is consciously resisting or disobeying the commandment of Jesus. Is there some part of your life which you are refusing to surrender at His behest, some sinful passion, maybe, or some animosity, some hope, perhaps your ambition or your reason? If so, you must not be surprised that you have not received the Holy Spirit, that prayer is difficult, or that your request for faith remains unanswered. Go rather and be reconciled with your brother, renounce the sin which holds you fast-- and then you will recover your faith! If you dismiss the word of God's command, you will not receive His word of grace. How can you hope to enter into communion with Him when at some point in your life you are running away from Him? The man who disobeys cannot believe, for only he who obeys can believe."

As I read that, it was as if Dietrich was speaking directly to me, or perhaps more accurately the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through the words of one of His servants. I knew that this passage was right about me, and I knew exactly at that moment what area of my life has been in rebellion against His good, pleasing and perfect will. I was cut to the core, and right then and there I offered it up to God. Through His grace I have been winning the battle since then in handing this area of my life over into His hands. It has only been a few days, but already I am beginning to feel as if I am enjoying communion with Him once again.
Due to His faithfulness, I had not lost my faith, or doubted Him or lost the actual presence of His Spirit. I had, however, lost my sense of an intimate relationship with Him which is even now being restored.
If you have been suffering in any of these ways; if you have missed God's presence; if you have lost your faith; if you are unable to pray or read His word; if you simply have a hard time believing, let me encourage you to listen to Bonhoeffer's words. If we are deliberately disobeying God, resisting His explicit will, kicking against His commandments, how can we expect to be able to hear His more specific will for our own lives? If we ignore the instructions which He has already written down for us, do you we really think we will have ears to hear His still, small voice? Turn yourself in to Him, relinquish the claims to your own life, forsake your desire to rule your own fate. Cast yourself upon His mercy, because He cares for you.