“And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You studythe Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” John 5:37-40 (NIV).
When you shop, do you buy the generic version or do you make sure to purchase only name brand products? I notice that for some objects, I can’t tell the difference between generic and the more expensive version, but for other things, the off brand just doesn’t cut it. It’s not as sweet, full of flavor, or I can’t even tell what it was supposed to be.
That happened to me with my spiritual life lately. I had gotten way too busy and didn’t take the necessary time to give God my “firsts.” For a two-week period, I had stopped waking up earlier than the rest of the family, starting my day right by being in His Word, praying and taking the time to listen to His voice before facing the day that lay before me. That opened me up to be much more persuaded than I would normally be to the lies of the enemy. Obstacles appeared bigger, problems seemed insurmountable, and I felt defeated before even beginning. I was now quicker to get depressed, upset, or otherwise irritated at minor occurrences and I was wondering why life seemed hopeless. And, as a result, it was harder and harder to hear God’s voice in my life and I felt distanced from Him. By the way, I hate that feeling!
To make matters worse, in my warped thinking, I decided that to grow closer to God, I just needed to do more which would show Him I was worthy of being blessed, worthy of having my prayers heard, and He would again show me the direction He wanted me to go because I had started to wander, unsure what step He wanted me to take.
It took first my husband, lovingly and gently, and then two very dear friends, separately, reminding me that God doesn’t want me following a set of rules in order to gain His favor. He doesn’t bless me and our household because of anything I do; He is waiting to bless me because I’m His child. All He asks of me is a genuine relationship where I seek to learn more about Him through reading the Bible and taking the time on a daily basis to sit quietly and listen to His still, small voice. How simple is that? And how quickly I forgot that important lesson.
The wonderful part about this whole experience was that God hadn’t moved away from me. He was still where He had always been – waiting patiently for me to come back into closer fellowship with Him. He didn’t get angry and hold a grudge. No, just the opposite. The minute I started giving Him my “firsts” again, He started showing me clearly what direction He wanted me to take and started lovingly giving me messages that were personalized for the details of my life. What I lacked in sleep, God generously made up for in peace and extra energy.
I know there will continue to be times in my life where I get too busy or distracted and fail to give God my firsts. I just pray that each time that occurs, it takes me less and less time to come back to the real deal and to quit settling for the imitation.
Are you settling for an imitation in your life or are you willing to pay full price for the real deal? After all, there really is no substitute when it comes to our relationship with God.
Copyright: 2013 Cheri Swalwell