You name it and I have been there. Hot and cold, on and off, up and down, this is the story of my relationship with the Lord. It reads like a bad romance novel; one minute I’m madly in love praising and praying all day long, can’t wait to get in the word, telling everyone about my Jesus, and the next minute I’m letting my selfish nature take over forgetting all about my quiet time, losing the sincerity behind my praise, forgetting to pray for others, not even knowing where I left my Bible. No matter how many times I get distracted by lesser things (not bad things, just lesser things that eat up my time and attention) my Jesus ALWAYS loves me, forgives me, reminds me, and pulls me back into His presence. When I feel that love and forgiveness, and the welcoming arms of my Jesus, I ALWAYS tell Him how sorry I am for forgetting my first love, and that I won’t let anything distract my attention from Him again. I know I can’t do the things He has for me to do without Him, and this time I’m going to keep my eyes on Him. I’ll be better, and then I am, until I get distracted by life again.
So I found myself in this hot and cold cycle, and I was on the cold side for a long time. I stood in a prophetic conference and listened as the pastor said, “Look at these four things and determine which one you need.” I looked at the choices: 1. Create in me a clean heart, 2. Renew a right spirit, 3. Keep me in your presence, and 4. Renew the joy of my salvation. I needed all four because even though I’d been reading my Bible pretty regularly, and listening to Christian music almost exclusively (which at that point just seemed to be background noise), I was not feeling the love and joy that a Christian should be feeling, I was just going through the motions. I wasn’t about to stand for all four things because the pastor said pick one. I decided that if the joy of my salvation was restored, everything else would fall into place, so I sat as he prayed, “create in me a clean heart.” even though I desperately needed that reset. I continued to sit as he prayed, “renew a right spirit within me.” I just stubbornly sat there and waited for him to pray over people who needed God to restore the joy of their salvation like that was all I needed. Joy is a wonderful thing; it’s what protects new Christians and draws them closer to Jesus and makes them never want to let go, but I am not a new Christian. I’ve known the lord for forty years, and I’ve been hot then cold, on then off, up then down for all these years. Every time I get distracted by life, Jesus starts reminding me of who I am, so I set my eyes on Him, and I get that Jesus high, that feeling only He can give, that joy.
I love that feeling and I want it back. This time was different though. This time I prayed for that joy, that Jesus high, and nothing happened. In fact, I became particularly grumpy all week. It weighed on me all week that I’d somehow missed the baptism of joy that the pastor said was coming. I knew I was not alone, I knew that my Father is ALWAYS with me, working in me and through me, but that Jesus high was nowhere to be found, and I desperately wanted it. So I had a very brief conversation with the Lord about it, and as soon as I said something about the joy I longed for, He spoke the word OBEDIENCE to me. I’m always amazed by how God can say so much with one word.
OBEDIENCE: Read your Bible daily, get into the word, it’s how we know our Father more. I was working on a 365 day Bible reading that has turned into a two year process instead of a one year process. None of that matters now, it’s time to make it a daily priority.
OBEDIENCE: Make your quiet time, your time alone with God a priority. Set an alarm, make it happen. No one can do the Father’s work without talking to Him. He gave us free will, and He wants us to willingly spend time in His presence.
OBEDIENCE: Attend church regularly. Christians need each other because we are brothers and sisters, and we’ve all been on the cold side at times with a real need for encouragement. God has given me friends who love Jesus and I need them and more amazingly, they need me.
OBEDIENCE: Praise Him. Let go of your pride and lift your hands to Jesus, or fall on your face, or dance before the Lord. Just praise Him. Praise is our greatest weapon, and the pride that keeps us from praising our savior is our greatest weakness. There is a whole lot to be said for an attitude of gratitude. Praise Him in the small things and in the big. When you get the good parking spot say, “Thank you Father.” When you see a lost family member get saved, say, “Thank you Father.”
Great or small, He is in control of it ALL. Remember that, and be OBEDIENT because JOY IS COMING!!!