There comes a time in the life of many believers when you have to face up to your spiritual shortcomings. It can be quite painful to realise that despite your best intentions you have allowed your time with God to shrink.
There is always something that seems so urgent at the time so maybe you skip your morning prayer, or like me, you stop mid-way through a Bible study.
It starts with one instance, then two, and soon those missed moments gather into a ball of guilt. You should be on week four but you haven’t even started week two!
You have failed. You have disappointed God and you shutdown for fear of His judgment.
This is a routine that I have been familiar with throughout my Christian life.
I struggle to find the balance between longing to be more faithful, taking on too much and becoming discouraged.
But sometimes, the truth is, I become lazy. I get complacent and feel that I can skip a days reading because “I know that story already.”
And maybe I do.
At least on the surface.
There are many biblical stories that I have read (or watched an animated version of...) and I feel like I know what happens, I don’t need to read this again.
But the truth is you could read the same chapter every year and still take something new from it.
This week Dr. Stanley spoke of how many of us are guilty of sacrificing the future for momentary pleasure. He spoke on the story of Jacob and Esau.
If you had asked me, up until a few days ago, I would have said yes I have read the story of Jacob. I thought I knew the story, but in actuality, I only remembered the goat fur on the arms – which I saw as a great betrayal.
At the time I last read those verses I was dealing with the repercussions of betrayal. I was focused on my own hurts that truthfully I can’t tell you anything else that happened.
It wasn’t just that I had assumed my knowledge, nor that I had avoided time with God, what resonated with me was the core thought process behind those actions: temporary satisfaction.
There was always something else that seemed more important, maybe it was easier, maybe not, the point is how many times have I chased temporary satisfaction and not considered the possibility of eternal loss?
My truth is that it is far easier to write about being intentional with God than actually putting it into action. I often seek the easier path, or become distracted, even in prayer there’s always seems to be other thoughts clamping for my time.
It’s why I started journaling.
When I write I am able to focus on the task at hand, and writing my prayers meant that I spent true quality time with God. It meant that I took time to listen. God was my penpal, and I felt able to connect with Him with far more openness.
It was raw, but more importantly, it was uncomfortable.
My writings revealed more that I was willing to face. It hurt and so I stopped.
I was willing to give up my time with God; to give up spiritual growth so that I didn’t feel bad. As though my life without God is painless.
Esau was hungry and tired.
He felt so weary as though he were dying and when he saw Jacob’s food he wanted it so much that he was willing to trade anything for it. Jacob asked for him to sweat to give up his birthright and in that moment of temporary discomfort, he agreed.
Of course this is not the beginning, nor the end, of the story, however that short passage has been on my mind ever since.
How many times have I accepted a temporary pleasure to avoid discomfort?
How many opportunities have I given away?
How many freedoms have I allowed to be stripped from me because it was easier than fighting, or worse, waiting?
The message that inspired this post:
SACRIFICING YOUR FUTURE FOR THE PLEASURE OF THE MOMENT
I have found traditional church to be inaccessible, so I am grateful that I am able to access sermons and studies that enable me to have some form of fellowship. Dr. Stanley and In Touch Ministry is one of my preferred digital services.
(I’ll write in more detail about the digital church at a later date)