“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalms 119:105, ESV).
As a Christian, I have certain high expectations of myself. And as a Christian blogger I feel a certain sense of responsibility to set a good example. But even more than that, I feel compelled to be honest with you about where I have fallen short, and how to turn things around when it happens.
We have before us an impossible standard: holiness (1 Peter 1:16). And when our efforts are focused on “not screwing up,” we are “looking our way into the ditch.” It’s like when you are driving down the road and something interesting catches your gaze. Without thinking about it, you find yourself drifting in the direction your eyes are focused. When we look toward the goal, our path is much straighter.
Lately, when it comes to prayer, I have “looked my way into the ditch.” I’ve thought of prayer as a duty, something I can scratch off of my list each day. I’ve been a Christian for a long time. There have been times when it was all that I could do to mutter off some rote rambling. There have also been times where I have moved past the point of intellectual understanding of the grace of prayer to conversation with the Living God.
It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of life and neglect our most important relationships, human and divine. There are times when the cares of the day leave us wanting only to be left alone. But we don’t always realize that in responding to stress by closing doors, we are isolating ourselves from the very thing we need for our restoration.
Lately I have found myself throwing up hollow praise and shallow petitions. I’ve been lazy about the relationship that I simply cannot live without. I suspect that some of you might be walking in my shoes as well.
But this post is not about my failures or yours. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, ESV). Rather, I am writing to remind myself—and any of you who might need reminding—that when we fall down we need to get up, brush ourselves off, and follow Jesus. Our destination never changes.
The thought came to mind of orienteering, the process of using a map and a compass to get to where we want to go. The first step is figuring out where we are. Then we must orient the map to the compass, aligning north on both. Then using the two in conjunction we are able to move toward our destination. Sure, sometimes we find that we have gotten off course but we have all of the tools we need at our disposal.
Remembering that an intimate relationship with God is the highest goal one can have; we are aware of our desired destination. It doesn’t take much effort, then, to realize our current location. Many of us would admit that we have had times in our lives where we were closer to God, and many more would have to say that they have never felt close to God. That part of spiritual orienteering is pretty straightforward.
It doesn’t take much creativity to see that the Bible is our map. The pages of scripture from Genesis to maps lay out for us our spiritual route. And the Holy Spirit is our compass. He gently alerts us when we have gotten off course; and if we will listen and follow, He will never lead us astray. It will serve us well to remember that the Holy Spirit will never lead us away from the Word. The Spirit and the Word are forever aligned.
Right now my challenge is to make my way back to the path of intimacy with the Father through prayer. I’ve gotten off course and this is where the Spirit is leading me. You might find yourself in the same boat, or you may be floating in an entirely different ocean. Whatever challenge you are facing, I am praying that you will get your bearings by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
Blessings on your week!
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