Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Pursuing God: Reflections After a Car Accident

Seven weeks and one day ago, I was in a serious car accident. God was good and protected me, but it was such an eye-opening experience. Being laid up for weeks and stripped of all the things that give me identity (my job, running, crafting, writing, parenting), I was forced to truly examine myself.

And it wasn’t pretty. I realized that my justifications for avoiding an intimate relationship with God (I’m too busy, I’m too tired, at least I’m serving Him through work and church) were just that. Justifications. Because when I was finally home and had nothing to do, I still only devoted a tiny portion of time to Him. I filled my time with Candy Crush, endless episodes of Top Chef, book after book, far too much Facebook, but rarely did I seek Him.

A wonderful woman texted me and talked about using the time I was at home to draw closer to Him. Her words of encouragement were so beautiful, but I still found myself reaching for anything but the Bible. 

I’ve learned that although I’m often the “pursuer” in relationships - the one that calls, texts, and makes plans with others - I rarely pursue God. For someone that spends a significant amount of time pursuing relationships with those around me, spiritually, I often sit back passively, reading a few Bible verses here and there, and hoping that God will continue to pursue me.

Now the amazing news is that God’s love for us is unconditional, it doesn’t depend on how awesome and fully involved we are. Even when we struggle, He still offers us wisdom when we ask for it (James 1:5), a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7), comfort in times of stress (Psalm 94:19). However, I cringe when I think about how easily I take His unconditional love for granted.

I am always incredibly convicted by Matthew 22:34-40:

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Over the past few weeks, I've had to ask myself: am I really loving God with all of my heart, soul and mind? Stripped of distractions - music, noise, busyness, talking, pride – it became obvious how much I fill my heart, soul, and mind with things other than God to avoid silence. Because ultimately, when I am silent, it is easier to hear the discontentment and self-doubt that often fill my soul, and the guilt that I’m not a “good enough” Christian/wife/mother/social worker. So I fill the silence with noise to drown out those thoughts. The downside is that I also inadvertently drown out His voice too. The distractions I pursue leave little time or room in my life to feel His presence. 

I've concluded that I don’t want to live a life where I expect Him to always follow up on His promises, but avoid time with Him and pray half-heartedly here and there.

Instead, I want to offer Him the firstfruits of my time, not a quick prayer at the end of the day where I fall asleep before I say Amen.

I want to pursue God not because I feel obligated to, but because I want to.

I am not naturally a disciplined person, and I don’t want to boil this down to “simply read the Bible more” or do a regimented one-hour quiet time in the morning because then it can quickly slip into obligation (which breeds resentment or guilt if I am unable to follow through).

I want to live a life where God is the first one I turn to when upset, when happy, when content. When I open the Bible to hear His voice, not just because it’s been a while or I feel like I “should.”

A life where I pray, not because there is nothing else to do, but because I want to spend time with my Father.

A life where I have a vibrant relationship with the Creator of the Universe who loved me so much that He “showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8, NLT).

A life rejoicing “in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God” (Romans 5:11, NLT).

The best part? It starts with a single baby step. To open my Bible before I check Facebook. To pause and pray this afternoon in the middle of my work day instead of waiting until late tonight when I’m exhausted. To examine my heart and write this post that may not be that “flattering” to myself, but is honest and authentic. 

For me, change isn’t about starting with a huge list of “shoulds” (I should pray this often, should read my Bible this much, should do quiet time for this long). Instead, it is spending less time pursuing others, distractions and my own needs and more time pursuing Him, little bit by little bit.

Some of you are much further down the road than I am – you are disciplined and have a vibrant relationship with God woven through your everyday life, but for those of you, who like me, struggle with actively pursuing Him, I pray that this simply encourages you to start, one baby step at a time. 


5 comments:

  1. I too have found baby steps to be the only way. That, and setting aside time in my schedule everyday and sticking to it (which I don't always do perfectly). But I am excited to hear about what God has in store for you on this journey!

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  2. Thank you for your authenticity and honesty. I’m glad you’re working through baby steps—what a good example you are!

    Heather Bock

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