Tomorrow will be one month since I ran the Ottawa marathon. I spent 6 months training for this event. On May 26, the day of the marathon, I was in the best shape I had been in for 9 years. Now, less than a month after, I find it much harder to run 10K than I did then. Why? Simple answer. I am running less. My training is over and now I run simply for enjoyment. This morning when I finished my run, I was completely exhausted. Yes, the temperature is a bit hotter and it is more humid, but the difference between today and May 26 is huge.
The point? In our relationship with the Lord, it does not take long to drift away. We can spend months or even years growing astronomically in our love for the Lord and striving vigorously to serve Him, but if our eyes drift away from Him, even for a short period of time, we can find ourselves far from Him. In a short time we can go from joyful to bitter, active to passive, and involved to nominal. Often when this happens we blame our lost of love for the Lord on our circumstances, busyness, or the fault of others in the church. But the real reason is that we have taken our eyes off of Jesus and we have grown weary and fainthearted (Hebrews 12:1-4). It is impossible to feel close to the Lord when we get this way. God won`t let us feel close to Him when we get this way (v.5-11).
Now one thing I do not want to do is to minimize hard circumstances, busyness, and personal conflict. These are real and they impact our lives. But, it is in these times that we need even more to remain close to our Lord. These are times when our faith comes under testing. By keeping our eyes on the Lord our faith can be strengthened and our joy and love for the Lord be increased. But if we choose to turn away from Him, it is an opportunity for the devil pull us away from the only one who can save us, the Lord.
So let me encourage you. Keeping running the race of faith. If hard circumstances have pulled you away from the Lord, then it is a good time to examine your faith in Him. Do you follow Him only in good times, but blame Him during the hard times. Is the foundation of your faith in Him alone, or is it in Him and what you think He needs to give you?
If busyness has pulled you away from the Lord ask your self some serious questions. Have your priorities changed in your life that has caused you to not have time for Him? Do you need to cut something away from your schedule in order to not be too busy for the Lord? Do you consider Him your number one priority or is He just the leftover when you get the time.
Has a personal conflict hurt you to the point that fellowship with the Lord and His people is less frequent? What was your role in the conflict? Do you need to ask forgiveness of something? How can you be a part of the solution? Could it be that your role in the situation is initiating reconciliation with humbleness? Maybe the Lord wants to use you in the conflict to demonstrate His love to someone else and help them grow in their love for Him. Maybe the Lord wants to use someone in your life to help you grow in your love for Him. One thing you must admit is that in this life there will never be a long period of time without conflict. Even if you lock yourself in your home and see no one you will have conflict, within yourself, as you imagine what others may or may not think of you.
My run was hard this morning, but I will not quit. In a day or two I will lace up my shoes and go for another run. Will it be easier? I have absolutely no idea. But I love to run, so I will go. Drifting away from running is not an option. If I get busy, I will find a time to go.
If you have drifted from the Lord, don`t blame Him, others, or life. Press on toward the goal of the upward call in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). Will it be easy? Probably not. But the joy that comes from a life fully devoted to following Christ is exponentially greater than a life shipwrecked in bitterness, loneliness, and pointless activity.
When circumstances get hard, call upon God for wisdom (James 1:5). When life gets busy, do not exchange Christ as first place in your life for anything else (Colossians 1:18). When there is conflict, pursue peace (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18). And then watch God work as you walk close to Him!