About two weeks ago, I was going through a difficult experience, as I detailed in my last post. In that time, I was reminding myself of the cross, what Jesus had done for me, and my great need for God. It was hard. And although it was hard, I was thankful for the experience in that I was learning my need for God in that time.
Well, that difficult experience got better. My problems that were causing me grief got worked out. I was more than happy to thank God for His grace and move forward. I had, however, not learned my great need for God in the way I thought I had. While I had seen it in one area of my life, I had forgotten it in another. In the following days, I found myself wandering in my mind and seeking my own amusement. It was fun and I was happy. I did notice though that I didn't feel the need to spend the time in prayer as I had in recent days. I shrugged off the thoughts that I allowed to linger and became increasingly relaxed toward sin. Pushed it aside, thinking it really wasn't a big deal. Looking back, I was rather alarmed at what passed through me at that time.
Four days. Four days was all it took for this to transpire. Four days from knowing my need for God in one area and ignoring it another and wanting to go my own way. Looking back though, I know it didn't in actuality happen in just four days. Compromise and sin rarely happen overnight. It starts with tiny seeds that go unchecked. It starts with that thought I know I should shut out but allow to linger a little longer. It's a slow, yet very quick process when I let my guard against sin down a little, just a little bit more each time.
And then I'm left wondering what happened as I find yourself sitting in filth once again, the mess I thought was a part of the past. I wonder why I feel distant from God when only a few days earlier I so keenly felt the nearness of His presence.
But in the time I was going through this, I felt another strange feeling come over me. I wanted to utter a strange prayer. I wanted to welcome difficulty into my life, because I knew it was often what kept me close to God. It was the exact opposite of how I used to respond, when I turned away from God in hard times. I know now that when life is breezy and I can go about amusing myself, I wander from Him. I wander from purity and holiness. I wander from the principles I believe in and begin to wonder if I should cast them aside. I wander to ugly places and begin to become comfortable there again. I never thought I would wish for life to become harder.
I have to come to God in repentance again, seeking Christ's power over sin. I have to ask Him again to instill within me His desire for holiness. I have to keep my focus on Him that I may continue on the narrow way. I have to let the hard times keep me close to Him and not forget that when circumstances gets easier.
The difficult times we often go through can actually be blessings. They don't feel that way at the time, but they are. It's then that we grow and experience the nearness of God, when we know we need His strength for every step. We forget that otherwise. So next time you're going through a difficult time where you have to fall before the throne of grace at least ten times a day, be thankful that it's keeping you close to Him. And remember to stay close to Him when He lifts you up to higher ground.
(By the way, before this post was even published, I had a difficult day where three specific events caused me much frustration. I was not thrilled and it was hard to be thankful. But I had to remind myself that it was what I had wished for, bring my frustration before God, try to learn from my mistakes and move on. Be careful what you pray for.)