I know a lot of people who think you’re either Spiritual or you’re not.
Either you have an in with God or you don’t.
You’re either a saint (with a halo and wings) or your a sinner (with horns and red boots).
I have a bunch of friends that put me in the category of having a direct line to the big guy. They see me as a pastor, or a religious do-good kind of guy – so surely – spirituality for me is easy. They can’t envision that I struggle …with sin, or life, or anything probably.
For them being a Spiritual Person = No Problems. No Heartache. No Sin.
Nothing is further from the truth…
In fact, if you look at almost any biblical hero, you’ll find their flaws and insecurities really quickly.
Look at David. King David. The same guy that God chose and anointed as a boy. The kid who killed Goliath. The musician and poet and psalmist. The king. The one who God said “He’s a man after my own heart.” (Acts 13:22) …he also cheated on his spouse and had the husband of his affair partner killed. Real winner, huh?
The truth is that we all struggle at times spiritually. All of us do. I do. You do. Voo-doo.
Lately for me, I’ve been struggling.
I find myself in a season of calm. The kind of calm that feels like a deadness in my soul. To complicate matters, I can’t really tell if its the calm after the storm, or the calm before the one that’s coming. Is God preparing me for even greater tragedy ahead, or is he just trying to get my full attention in this moment on my journey?
Some people have alluded to it as a desert experience …others think its what David is talking about in Psalm 23 when he talks about the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
I think Jesus lived with this tension: “But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” (Luke 5:16 NLT) …ask yourself this, “Why would Jesus need to pray??”
I believe Paul knew this all too well:
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (Romans 7:21-24 NLT)
The imagery I’ve latched on is more nautical.
I have this scene that is running around in my brain. It’s of a sailing vessel – a vessel dependent on wind – but there is no wind. The ship and her crew grow restless …waiting for the wind.
That’s how I feel.
It’s not that I doubt God or deny his presence. Its not that I don’t know what he can do.
Its just that right now, at this moment, my sails are slack.
Last night, I was having a conversation with a friend and it left me in angst. I realized that the situation we were discussing was hopeless. There is no answer. There is no easy, concise solution. I also saw pretty clearly that much of the pain and despair is my doing. The finger always points back to me. …and there’s really nothing I can do to fix it.
At one point, my friend went to the restroom, and I was left to my thoughts.
…and as I silently cried out to God for an answer, as I begged God for mercy and pleaded to be rescued, it was as if all the wind in my sails just vanished.
Everything went slack.
And so – I wait. …while the crew and her Captain get restless.
The irony is this: I NEED times like these.
I sometimes forget that without his power – his wind – I would go nowhere. Sometimes I get so far ahead of him, that I sail in all kinds of crazy directions. Sometimes I slip into this idea that its my effort that gets me somewhere in life, and I withdraw from living by faith and dependence. If I’m honest, I live too much by the power of Charles than the power of God’s Spirit.
So maybe there is beauty in these calm waters – I wait …for Him.
Now if I can just figure out how to be less grumpy about it.