Ebbs and Flows.
Sometimes I get in funks. I think we all do. There are ebbs and flows to our lives, relationships and especially our spiritual journey and growth. To be honest this frustrates me. The reason it frustrates me is because I remember the “mountain top” times. The times where you feel like God hears every prayer. The times where you feel like your worship is received with open arms. The times when the “warm and fuzzies” are extremely accessible.
Then there are the other times. The times when work presses down on you. The times where the world shows itself as the dominion of the enemy. The times where everything is worked for and nothing comes easy. In these times is when I see myself feeling in the valley or feeling stagnant.
In these times, I always go to the Psalms. The Psalms reveal more about God’s character and man’s struggle to respond to it more than any other book. It is full of laments, praises, struggles, questions…. answers. In Psalm 51, David is responding to the confrontation of sin. He unlawfully “took” a woman into his bed and then had her husband killed to cover it up…. big stuff right? The prophet Nathan comes to David and describes a story of a rich man that has many sheep. That rich man, instead of taking one of his many sheep, steals the one and only sheep of a poor man and slaughters it to feed his guests. After King David shows his indignation, Nathan reveals that King David is that rich man.
Psalm 51 shows David’s response. It is really beautiful, but I want to focus on one part because I found that it is the prayer I need when life is crushing.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of you salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.
To be clear, the "warm and fuzzy" feeling is not my barometer of my spiritual growth. My barometer is kept and maintained by God. He has began the work and He will complete it. However, just like any relationship, it is easy for me to know when things are "off". I don’t know about you, but almost every time I feel far from God, it is because of sin. Sometimes the sin is not obvious to me; sometimes it is. If we ask the Lord to “create in me a clean heart”, then sin will be revealed and we can finish that prayer. The resolution is to have the “joy of salvation” returned! The Lord must restore it.
James 4:8 tells us that if “Draw near to God, He will draw near to us”; that we must “cleanse our hands as sinners” and “purify our hypocrite hears”. Let’s ask for God to clean our hearts in those time when we feel far. Make this a daily prayer and I think we will find ourselves singing and rejoicing in the valleys!
Soli Deo Gloria