"God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what He has done, collecting a following for Him" (1 Corinthians 1:17)

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Meditation Monday: Looking Back

dig in series2

When I gave my life to Christ fifteen years ago, I was on fire! My entire life was transformed, and the joy I felt each and every day was overwhelming. People were amazed at how much life and laughter I had—without any stimulants.

Fifteen years later, it takes everything out of me just to squeak out a smile. My fire has fizzled and my joy is mostly forced. Each day is a struggle just to get out of bed.

Today I’m dealing with the anger I inflicted on my family yesterday—Easter of all days. I was so angry with my brother-in-laws that I slammed myself in the utility room and kicked an empty laundry basket across the small room. It hit the wall, then the washing machine, and finally the small freezer. Although it felt wonderful to release that anger, my near-three year old now tells the story like this: “Mommy slammed door. And BAM! BOOM! BANG! UUUUGH!!”

pure heart

Where did my joy go? Looking back, I long for those days when my life was much like those of the early apostles. Nothing could’ve taken my joy away. NOTHING! And now, every single morning I have to muster up enough faith just to say a simple prayer before my feet touch the ground. That prayer usually consists of Psalm 51:10:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Originally, this week’s Dig In series was going to be, Religion vs. Relationship. However, I feel God is asking me to reveal to you, through my own personal pains, that when we “look back,” we can easily lose our fire, even the strongest of us can—and have!

Eleven years ago I looked back. And because my fire was ablaze, I thought nothing of it. I felt strong enough to endure it. But I looked back into a life that God delivered me from and latched onto it again. All it took was one sip of wine, and one sweet talking guy to lure me back in.

I tried to honor God at the same time, and we all know how disastrous that is. Even though I knew God had not left me, I was too ashamed to seek Him anymore. The minute I made that decision, my life spiraled out of control all over again.

Jesus once said that we can’t serve two masters. Although He was referring to money, I think it’s applicable with just about anything. We can’t claim to serve Christ if our life doesn’t represent that Life within us.

I remember during that period of time being drunk and trying to debate faith with non-believers. How ridiculous I must have looked, but worse yet, how ridiculous I made Jesus look!

It was about a year before I met my husband, Jared, that I reclaimed my life back for Christ. There are consequences to looking back and then coming back. Faith will no longer come easily. It becomes a battle everyday to keep believing. And the Holy Spirit doesn’t just drop on you anymore, no matter how much you cry out for it.

You lose a very special part of yourself and your relationship with Jesus when you choose to look back. It’s a part of Him that He graciously gave you and you carelessly threw away. Although Christ doesn’t “deny” you access to return, it’s not like it was in the beginning when everything was so dazzling and brand new. This time you get to keep looking through old eyes and hearing things with old ears. Your hardened heart remains so, and your crushed spirit longs for renewal.

I’m not saying this will happen to everyone—or anyone else for that matter. However, there’s a part of me that feels like Paul when he asked God to heal him of a particular ailment but God refused, almost to keep him in constant remembrance.

Now when I feel angry with God and want to walk away—and I’ve tried several times—I’m constantly reminded of how much I lost when I looked back. God won’t stop nagging me. He’s persistent and determined. He may not offer me much in the Holy Spirit department anymore, and that’s probably because I once relied heavily on it to get me through all life’s problems, but He teaches me to rely solely on my faith alone. And that’s why I constantly cry out:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Do you know what I’m talking about today, or is this blog specifically for me only? Am I the only one in need of the Holy Spirit power in my life again? Am I the only one missing it so much that I cry out for it every day?

Psalm 51:10 is quite literally my life’s motto, and I absolutely love The Message version of the entire Psalm. This week, reflect upon and pray verse 51:10, and try to read the entire Psalm.

Following Jesus…

It has costs and consequences. We don’t regret the decision we’ve made, but sometimes we crave to look back into an old life that haunts us. A life that at times seems easier and much more welcoming than the suffering we endure. For me, dealing with life’s pains can be easily  forgotten in a six-pack of High Life. Okay, who am I kidding. A twelve-pack. I could numb the pain rather than kick a laundry basket across the room. Dealing with raw pain is not easy, and sometimes relying on faith to get us through is just as difficult.

Last week we discussed who we are in Christ, but this week we’re going to focus on what that means in our everyday life. What does it mean to be a "part” of Jesus? And what does it mean to be “apart” from Jesus?

Heather Spiva, author of The Puzzle Master, will be our guest blogger on Friday. Don’t miss it!


  1. Sometimes it is good to step away from routines and schedules. Just get away and spend some quiet time with God. Discussing the past days upsets or questions. And in conversation with God we can agree on the right solutions for next time. It gives time to settle into yourself and be honest. And it gives Holy Spirit access into action; in and thru our lives each day.
    God doesn't expect perfection, he is there to guide us up and over the rough patches, steep hillsides and deep trenches.

  2. Thanks Heather! I'm excited to post your great blog on Friday!!


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