Today I experienced something that was truly profound for my life. Very simple, yet surprisingly profound. Recently, I have been struggling to maintain the same devotion that I had in weeks prior. I have read less, prayed less, and worshiped less. It felt like I was getting into a routine of life and my desire to be in God’s presence and to get lost in His Word was trapped under a bed of thorns. Every time I reached down to pull that desire out, I painfully cut my hand. It was painful to turn the TV off, get off of Facebook, and refrain from being hypnotized by Twitter. When I sat down to write, nothing came. I began to read the Word legalistically with no emotion, devotion, or desire. As a result, my reading did not lead to worship. Ultimately, I was not glorifying God or receiving true joy. I was robbing God of glory and myself of joy. Repentance has been necessary. Confession has been long awaited. I was being faithless to God. Praise be to God that He is always faithful (2 Timothy 2:13)! He humbled me through an accidental fast today.
I say “accidental” because today I gave up an aspect of my life that was hindering my relationship with God and was more enthralled in His Word and in prayer than I have been in a while, yet I did not willingly or intentionally do this. I didn’t watch any TV today. This was completely accidental in the sense that I did not plan it. The TV in my room was just turned off and I sat at my desk and read His Word. I was brought immediately back to the joy I had been giving up! Oh how I rejoiced this morning in my God and His goodness. I was so caught up in the grace of God and power of the Spirit in the Word that I missed two classes, nearly missed lunch, and spent nearly six straight hours reading the Word, meditating on the Word, praying, writing on my reflections, and listening to sermons by Dr. David Platt. Time seemed to lose meaning as I was seemingly lost in the Word all the while being found by my God and King. His love, grace, mercy, and faithfulness filled me up with joy. My desire for God rose up from under those thorns and elevated me into pure joy as I was gripped by His grace and love. I was back to reading out of desire and delight. My joy was found in Him and I feel He was glorified through my time with Him. He was of greatest importance. This led into a great night of leading a new believer in the Word. Teaching this young Christ-follower the Word only added to my joy. I witnessed his desire for God increase tonight and I am satisfied that God was glorified in our meeting as we both left fully satisfied in Him. We met to play basketball, fellowship, and study the Word. Instead, we ate a meal briefly and studied Ephesians 4:17-32 intensely.
My reflection on this great day is that my joy in God resulted from my pursuit of Him in His Word. My pursuit of Him in His Word resulted from an elimination of a distraction. This has led me to two groundbreaking implications for my life and I pray that they may possibly aid you in your walk with Christ.
Implication #1: I must eliminate certain aspects of my life completely in order to avoid temptation to stray from God. A lyric from “Come Thou Fount” sums the daily life of a Christian very well:
“Prone to wander Lord I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love.”
We are so prone to wander from the God we love. Realizing this, I know that I must wake each morning with a prayer: “O, Father, I plead that you would renew my desires for you in this day. May I glorify you in my life today and may my joy in you be full. May I be satisfied in you above all else and refrain from settling from anything less.” I fail day after day in starting my day in prayer. Laziness and sleep overcome my devotion to God. This must end! However, the end must have a beginning and I believe that the end of this lack of devotion to God must be ushered in with an elimination of a lesser joy. This will look different in everyone’s life. Mine begins with TV, Facebook, and Twitter. I must use this accidental fast today to motivate me to take TV out of my life for the time being. I am not talking about a fast that will end. I am talking about an elimination of the majority of the TV that I watch to be sustained. I want to exchange TV entertainment with devotion to God and the reading of my Christian mentors. For me, this must begin swiftly and though it will be difficult and painful, I expect that and much more in my further seeking of His perfect will for my life.
Implication #2: I must begin to fast. I have never fasted in my 20 years of life. I previously held a negative opinion about it prior to my true conversion experience. However, after today, I have seen the vital importance in fasting. I need it to strengthen my relationship with God and to increase my joy in Him. I need this to take place when my devotion becomes legalistic and begrudging rather than joy-driven and delightful. I am needing to make serious and life-changing decisions in a very short amount of time and I desperately need to seek God in humble, faithful, time-consuming, fervent prayer. I need to fast in order to demonstrate my trust in God to work in my life and the next step I need to take in His calling on my life. I desperately need Him and to seek Him. This must become priority number one in every sense of the phrase. I need His guidance, comfort, and peace as I make these decisions and I know no better way than to seek Him and depend on Him in fasting. Above TV, Facebook, Twitter, and yes, even food, I need the eternal bread of life Jesus Christ and the all-satisfying and soul thirst quenching Word of God. Serious fasting is what is necessary and I praise God for His timing and sovereignty in opening the eyes of my heart tonight to realize this.
Remember to praise God the Father for His faithfulness when we were faithless and His love for us while we were sinners. Be grateful for His grace, mercy, and patience. His purposes are glory-seeking and joy-driven. May our actions and lives imitate this as we seek to glorify God and in the process find joy in Him and share Him with the nations so they may glorify and rejoice in Him too.
I leave you with the glorious closing stanza of “Come Thou Fount”:
“Jesus sought me when a stranger Wandering from the fold of God He, to rescue me from danger Interposed His precious blood O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above”
By His Grace — For His Glory — For Our Joy,