Longing for Connection

“The attitude of my heart ebbs and flows in direct proportion to the amount of time I spend in connection with Jesus.”

This quote from Sara at Walk Slowly, Live Wildly has been on my heart from the moment I read it.  I’m making it bold and purple because this one sentence could define the past 10 months of who I have been, and why.  This year I have really struggled to maintain a daily habit of connecting with Jesus.  I am ashamed to admit, I have struggled to maintain a relationship with Jesus.  I know that Jesus’ finished work on the cross reconciles me to himself, despite my unworthiness of it.  In other words, I know that I am saved.  I know where I am going when God decides to take me from this earth.  But I haven’t felt the joy of it.  And I haven’t felt that the Lord is right here with me, close enough to talk to.  And I haven’t heard His voice or seen His hand in my life.

That’s not to say that God hasn’t been here with me.  That doesn’t mean He hasn’t spoken to me, or that His hand is not at work in my life.  Of course He does, of course it is.  But when I can’t feel it, it’s like my soul starts to dry up, and harden and shrink to the bare minimum of a believer of Jesus.  I won’t go back to not believing, I know that as surely as I know a pebble will fall to the floor if I let go of it.  I am bonded to Christ, I am pulled toward God as if by gravity, even when I can’t explain why or how that is the case.  But I lose the joy of my salvation, the understanding that I can lean on God for anything, the grace that He sends through me to others.  I cannot turn away from Him, but I feel like I can’t reach Him.

“I feel like I can’t reach Him.”  It’s a lie.  When I reach that point, I’ve allowed my emotions to tell my soul a lie about God.  I can reach Him, always.  Or more accurately, He can always reach me.

“Come near to God, and He will come near to you.”  (James 4:8) 

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed; His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”  (2 Timothy 2:13)

I don’t have very much scripture memorized.  But in the past six years, there always seems to be something helpful running through my head.  Except this year.  And the reason is, I haven’t put it there.  Scripture is God’s Word, His lifeline extended to us mortal souls on earth.  Pick one of the quotes and read it.  Read it again.  Read it a third time.  Read it slowly, so that you hear every word inside your head.  Read it aloud if it helps.  It is God’s voice, His very Word.  It helps.  It calms.  It speaks to something in your life right now.  Scripture is living, full of answers to my questions, full of quiet advice about what I should do in my specific situation.  If you can imagine this grand statement:  Scripture is everything God ever needs to say to anyone, past, present, or future.  Wow!  No wonder it’s such a big book, right?

In my life, there is this little quirk about reading God’s Word.  It is cumulatively addictive.  (I’m making up phrases now.)  If I read it for about 15 minutes one day, it feels nice.  And it might stay in my head for the next hour or so.  But if I read 15 minutes a day for five days in a row, on the sixth day I crave to read.  By the tenth day, I’m reading a half hour each morning.  After two or three weeks, verses come to mind when I encounter something difficult during the day.  I grow to be more aware of God’s presence throughout the day.  I grow to turn to God immediately with joy, or gratitude, or with difficulties, rather than turning to Him as a last resort or forgetting Him all together. 

Everyone has their own way of connecting with God.  There are a thousand different ways to worship.  Singing and playing music is great.  Singing along to songs with lyrics taken right out of scripture, or lyrics that draw us to God, or even just playing music that soothes the soul and draws us in, is fantastic.  Reading good books written by authors who reference God’s Word or apply it to situations is wonderful.  Learning about godly people who set an example of living out the gospel in their lives is incredibly valuable.  But for me, I can’t just “follow someone who follows someone who follows God,” if you understand what I mean.  I will continue to sing and play music, to read books, to watch and imitate godly people.  But for me to have a relationship with Christ, I need a direct connection to the source.  I need to have conversations with him, both speaking to him in prayer and listening through his Word.

I have a dark and twisty streak, to borrow a phrase from Grey’s Anatomy.  I find myself in the dark and twisty place regularly.  But the thing is, when I let God’s light in, the dark and twisty becomes simply an opportunity.  And sometimes it is comfortable to stay in the darkness, to wallow in the despair because it is familiar.  Jesus will ask us to do hard things on this walk with him.  And I’ve heard the theory that it’s because the devil is working to defeat the goodness of God, and he will focus on we who believe.  But what if Jesus asks us to do hard things because we can, because we are the ones who he can use, and the ones through whom he can work?

In a sense, you could say that I’ve given my life to Christ but I am trying to endure it without him.  I have asked for a life that will be tested, a life that will be used for God’s will, but I am refusing to tap into the source of God’s strength and grace that would provide me with a way to endure and succeed.  That connection, that relationship, is all I need.  I think I need many things in this world: relationships with people, monetary wealth, posessions, entertainment, worldly pleasures.  But there is only one thing I need.

You know by now that I can be obsessive when it comes to music.  I want to know about my favorite musicians, and who they are as people.  I have to admit, sometimes I learn things that make me wish I was still blissfully unaware of them as people, and only hearing the music.  Just as in the beginnings of relationships, our ideas about a person can run wildly away from the reality, before we even realize, before we know the reality.  But sometimes, what I learn makes me want to know more.  Such has been the case with the Jonas Brothers.  Their music is solidly good, with a few examples of fantastic here and there.  But what keeps me continually obsessed is who they are as people.  They are not often explicit about their faith, and in their position, I’m not sure I would be either.  Teenage girls should love God because He is God, not because they also love the Jonas Brothers.  They are doing a very difficult thing, living out their lives in public spotlight, with grace and gratitude.  When asked to consider one thing they couldn’t live without, all three of them said it was Christ.  Nick Jonas said:

“That personal relationship with the One who gives us all that we have.  There is no other faith in the world where you can have that one-to-one connection, and He can help you in the tough moments, and be there with you in the great moments.  He’s there for you.  It’s the best.”

I used to have that connection with Christ.  I want it back.  It would be easy to say that this year would have been so much different if I had maintained a connected relationship with Jesus, and it would be true.  And I’m sorry that I didn’t.  But at the same time, I have faith that we are put through trials to teach us things, to make us stronger in some way.  Maybe I needed to know exactly what it would feel like to encounter trials and not rely on God for help.  I won’t know for sure until I can ask Him in person.  But I do know, as always, that what I can do right now is try again tomorrow.  One day at a time.

Photo Credit: Evoke Life

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mom
    Jun 04, 2010 @ 12:17:22

    Check out the lives of Mother Teresa and Saint Faustina. They had times of a “darkness in the soul” that sounds a little like what you are writing about.

    Reply

  2. Sarah
    Jun 05, 2010 @ 21:11:55

    I’m beginning to see a theme with your pictures…. look back at the last three!

    Reply

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