I was hiking through the woods of the Upper Peninsula on a 10 day “leave no trace” backpacking trip. It was August of 2005 and I was going into my second year as an intern at camp. My first year was rather intense and I was beginning to learn what it meant to trust God…to really trust him. To trust him enough to make an alter of my heart and lay things on it one by one. On this particular day I was just hanging out with God hiking through the woods, talking to Him every so often when this declaration came to my heart “I would rather be 80 and never married if it means living a life of complete devotion to You then get married and settle into a life of complacency.” I stopped dead in my tracks. That was a monumental statement…I’d wanted to be married since I was a little girl! i think I started drawing my wedding dress in the 4th grade. And it was at that moment that I knew…I wanted God more than anything…anything.
That particular summer I was learning about the heart of God. His heart is Love. It’s that simple. The parable of the sheep and goats kept coming to my attention. And I wanted, more than anything, to please God. I don’t want to be standing in front of the throne of God and hear “you didn’t feed me when I was hungry or clothe me when I was naked. When I was thirsty you didn’t give me water to drink.” I was starting to realize that living a life for Christ was a little bit more than keeping a seat warm at church on Sunday morning and attending a bible study to hear yourself talk about how smart you are when it comes to knowing the will of the Lord. I am convinced that God does not care that I have all 66 books of the Bible memorized or that I can beat almost anybody in bible trivia. Did I follow His commandment? Did I love Him with all my heart, mind, and soul? And did I love my neighbor as myself?
Passion began flooding my soul…as I am a passionate person by nature, this was a fairly easy process…but the love of God was pouring into me and I was pouring out into everything I could. I loved God very simply, with my whole heart. My internship ended and I came home, as passionate as ever, ready to speak life into everybody around me. I joined a group called Salt Tribe at UNF and we worked day in and day out to spread the heart of God on that campus. I mentored college students, developed deep friendships within the group that were centered on God and the things of God, and I would sneak away to be in the Presence of God any chance I got. I labored diligently at doing the will of God in my life at that time…everything for the kingdom. My constant prayer was “God if it’s for your kingdom, I want it. And if it’s not, I don’t want anything to do with it”. Jesus is coming back for his Bride.
Fast forward 3 years.
I’m sitting in church on Saturday night listening to a message about the “secret place” with God thinking to myself “I haven’t been to that place in a long time”. I am a shell of the passionate Christian I once was. I don’t say this to gain your sympathy…I say this because it is true. Too often we try to pacify truth because it hurts. Sometimes we need to feel that pain. Today is one of those days. It’s not easy to admit that. It’s not easy to look in the mirror and see reality. To say “I’ve lost it. I’ve lost that passion”. The truth is that the only time that I look in God’s direction these days it at church…where I go once a week. My bible sits on my coffee table. I put it there weeks ago in the hopes that maybe I would see it and want to read it like I used to. I’ve barely touched it. My relationship with God has been clinging to the strong foundation that was previously built rather than growing and thriving. I feel like i’m lying every time I lift my hands in worship declaring that my life is His. It is, to a degree. I still seek His will for the direction of my life. I still obey Him. I still live a “Christian” life. But still, my heart has been heavy for days with this reality….I have forgotten my first love. I am breaking the heart of God. I have been in His presence, walked hand in hand with Him and then simply walked away…not completely. Certainly not completely. I still love God…that is without question. I still serve God….but I am not in, and do not have an intimate relationship with him at this time in my life. I am not in love with God, right now.
That was one of the hardest sentences I’ve ever written in my entire life.
How did I get here? How did i fall away from His presence? How did he become a side dish to my life…rather than the main dish?I could analyze it for days…and to some extent i will…but the “how” is not nearly as important as the “what now”. I can’t face this reality and not do something…I am compelled to seek the face of God.
The beauty of my situation is that while I have changed, God has not. He is still God. His heart is still towards me. He is the same- yesterday, today and forever. And his Word says that “you will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart”. I have my work cut out for me. I know the way back to His presence…