For the past few days, I have been ploughing through the book of Isaiah trying my best to understand what the prophet means. But I have been growing increasingly anxious, because I don’t seem to be learning much; nothing applicable has really struck me. In fact, each day, I barely remember much of the passage for the rest of the day.
So instead of opening my Bible today, I sit and stare at my ceiling and at a little scribble on my bedside that says, “Jesus loves”.
I can’t hide the feelings of frustration at the lack of tangible results from Bible reading. I can’t hide the worry that God is not revealing something to me possibly because there is some unconfessed sin, or because I am not reading the Bible rightly.
I had thought that consistently setting aside time for Bible reading and praying meant that my Christian life was healthy and thriving. But now I wonder: have I missed out something crucial?
“We cannot glorify God, even if we are praying, if we don’t enjoy him.”—John Piper
I seek to be disciplined in my Christian life, which I see as spending an hour in the morning and at night reading God’s Word, being responsible and accountable for my ministry commitments, and leading a deeply believing and expectant prayer life that gives space for God to move and work in, through and around me. I believed these made for a “successful” Christian life.
All these are really good things, and it is good to put effort into growing and honing these disciplines. But as I struggled to reconcile the dissonance I felt while I followed these disciplines, I started to ask what I was truly seeking.
Did I see spending time with God as a daily to-do item to check off? Did I see my completion of “quiet time” as an indication that my relationship with God was “ok” for that day so that I could go on to do other things? I sought God’s peace, sense of satisfaction, and fulfilment that He had promised—but did I seek God?
In Jeremiah 2:13, God charges the Israelites with two sins: forsaking God and pursuing idols. He said: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
Had religiosity become my idol? Had I forgotten that God is my only spring of living water, and tried to build my own source of spiritual strength? Had I become so caught up with keeping the spiritual disciplines, that I forgot to simply delight in the LORD?
Enjoying my time with God is a privilege and is possible because of His grace. He will rebuke, correct, and train us, so that our hearts will be turned more and more to recognize how enjoyable He is.
Over the past few days, God has been rebuking me for my attitude as I embarked on my spiritual disciplines. I thank Him for showing me where I have gone awry in my walk of faith. What a faithful God we have, that He would provide for our growth from beginning to end! As we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, let’s remember to seek God first and foremost.