Life has really had a lot of ups and downs lately. Mostly by my own hand, mind you, but I have been left wondering by it all.
C.S. Lewis wrote about peaks and troughs in The Screwtape Letters, and I've always agreed that life does indeed seem to consist of these up and down cycles.
I just didn't imagine they'd come so quickly, so deeply, or be composed so entirely of my own doing.
See, I can't say that I struggle with my faith in the sense of those words that most people speak them. I believe quite firmly in my God and in Jesus Christ. But I engage in behaviors, outwardly and in my mind and heart, of which I am deeply ashamed. In addition, I feel I am a very weak pray-er, and that I really don't read the Bible enough, or with consistency enough.... especially for someone who leads a Bible study group. Ugh.
And thus, while I am indeed very blessed and I thank God that my life has many high points, there are lots of lows, lots of troughs, and I can say that many are connected to everything I wrote about in that last paragraph... that distance I create between myself and the God I say I believe in.
Many Christian blogs would right about now throw in a happy ending, and sometimes that frustrates me, because that feels artificial to me. But you know what? We do have a happy ending. We do have a God who loves us enough to descend to our earth, take on a human body and walk about among us, get to know us, feel what we struggle with, overcome what we struggle with, and for everything we've done wrong, die on a cross so we wouldn't have to die in punishment and shame, and live again and forever so that we might live forever, too. My challenge sometimes is to replace "we" and "us" with "I" and "me". (Trying reading the paragraph making those substitutions; it's pretty cool!)
But there is one more challenge for me in those troughs. The challenge to remember that God expects more from me. See, it seems to me just as often as the Gospels and the Letters talk about redemption and grace, they talk about forsaking those things that cause us to be ashamed, that cause us to draw back from God. I know it would cause a lot less troughs if I were more disciplined -- more devoted -- to prayer, to the Scriptures, to my God. And I know it would hurt His heart less.
And I know I really really really want to hear those words one day... "Well done, good and faithful servant..."
So time, I hope, to get out of some of these troughs. Time to draw nearer my awesome God.
What keeps you from God? What causes you troughs? And how do YOU draw nearer to Him?