The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
“Expose all who drift away from your sayings;
their casual idolatry is lethal.”
It all came up so slowly that it was not perceptible. There was a gradual shift from vibrancy of faith to a slow lethargy. The spark seemed to be gone. I could not understand it. I went through what I was doing and it seemed that there was nothing missing, the spiritual disciplines were all there. Why was it that it seemed like passion for God was on the back burner? There was still a good relationship, I was not running away from him, it was more that the dynamic closeness of living on the edge was not there. There was not a constant stream of spiritual issues coming my way through our relationship that needed to be dealt with, that kept me sharp.
The academic year seemed to be going reasonably well. I had enough experience now after a few years of ministry to know where we were heading. That said I was tired, as was normal at this stage in the year – student ministry is always hard work. I had taken to doing some hobbies as recreation. They were quite fun, and were a good diversion from the pressures at hand, but I was not doing anything wrong that would take me from God – surely?
At first I had just accepted it and indeed enjoyed it. I was tired and it was good to have a break from living on the edge. As time went on I began to get concerned and went to God with the question: What is going on?
It was at that time that in our church home group we started to study the book of Haggai. Not a book I had given much attention to up to this point. I knew where it was, I had read it each time I had read the Bible, but that does not say a lot when you could pass by its two chapters in an evenings reading. Now however it hit me like a bomb shell:
‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘the time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.’”’ (Haggai 1:9 NIV) Was not this just the kind of remark that I had been using to justify my own complacency. I would like to be burning with passion for God and his spiritual household, but right now he is working on something less demanding. The passage went on: ‘You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you bought home, I blew away. Why? Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.’ (Haggai 1:9 NIV)
Here I was developing myself and my own desires instead of God’s house – which urgently needed attention. My big concern was of balance in my life rather than abandoning myself to God. And this, while there was so much to be done, so many hurting people to meet with and spend time with, including my own family. Not that these things were wrong in themselves but I was using them as a cushion to buffer myself from God, well I had succeeded and he had noticed. Why should he stick close to me, if I would not be close to him? Even worse these little projects had become a source of casual idolatry which was killing off life. It might be low level but it was no less lethal.