It’s been a thought buzzing in the back of my head, coming and going once in an hour, a week, a month. No less frequent than a month, though.
Meg. You’re a spiritual has-been. You used to be so close to God. Now look at you.
In high school, I read the Scriptures and wrote in a prayer journal for a full hour every night. It was as much a part of my nighttime routine as brushing my teeth. I never questioned whether or not I should or want to do it.
Now, my schedule is different. My life is different. I pretend I want a quiet time as badly as I did then, but really I just kind of quietly pity myself when other things flood into the water-lock that could have been my time with God.
Am I a spiritual has-been? Perhaps. I was last week. And last month. And maybe an hour ago. But am I now?
We all know the comparison game is dumb enough when you compare yourself to other people. But now you’re comparing yourself to yourself? Oy.
I mean, okay. Honestly, it’s not “bad” to compare your current year with your last year. And the year before. In fact, it’s a pretty scientific process. If businesses didn’t compare revenue from year-to-year, they wouldn’t know what goals to set!
All I’m saying is, maybe you’re using the wrong criteria.
Faith in high school doesn’t look like faith in college, doesn’t look like faith post-grad, doesn’t look like faith in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s.
Are we lowering the standard? No. It’s still just as important to swim in the Word more than you swim in culture and media. It’s still just as important to pray, to practice God’s presence, to worship with other believers, to be involved in God’s greater work of the kingdom in your local community.
But if you’re looking to the exact same methods, moods, and manifestations of the past — you’ll be disappointed.
So does faith get more and more disappointing as we grow up? No. I think it gets grander, more complex, more beautiful. Like aged wine. Like a growing startup company.
I’m writing this, after a months-long hiatus on my blog (besides a poem of desperation last Friday), because I am sensing God wanting to do a new thing in my life. Not new in that, oh my gosh, God is gonna do some miracle He’s never done in history. But that, I have gotten myself into these narratives of what my faith should look like that are limiting what I already know of God’s narratives.
For example, I think ministry will always be more of a burden than a joy. I feel as though I’m constantly behind on everything in my daily work. I feel like it will be a struggle the rest of my life to fall in love with Jesus while I secretly dream of someone or something else in a far-off land.
Last thought. Lately, there have been teachings floating around about grace that are originally meant to help us feel included and comforted, but that end up leaving us just plain stuck and broken and hurting as we’ve always been. I’m not naming names because I think these teachings sneak into any kind of denomination or even just an individual heart. It is more a spiritual-realm thing than a human-agenda thing — that is just how these things work. Satan hi-jacks our sinful nature and tendency toward extremes for his own gain.
Anyways, that teaching is this. Whether subtly or outright, it tells us:
Because of grace, we really don’t have to, nor should we, really take this covenant thing all that seriously.
Do you feel that teaching in the air around you? In your heart? For me, both.
That belief was exposed for me yesterday at Highrock when we took communion. Our pastor urged us to consider the blood-covenant of Jesus. I thought of Jesus being ripped to shreds on the cross. Then I thought of myself, making no sacrifice or even effort to resist temptations. For months. I felt in my spirit that I could not move forward with communion unless I legitimately turned from my sins and resolved to reject temptation the next time it came. And the next. And the next.
But God, what if I repent today and fall back into it tomorrow? I thought. But the reply came: “Are you now letting fear of your lack of strength keep you from leaning on my sufficient strength?”
It wasn’t trite. A switch has been flipped in my spirit.
Maybe I was a spiritual has-been yesterday. But only because I identified as one. But this is not my identity. I am, even now, walking with Jesus. Because He has given me the choice to, and because I have taken it. He shed his blood for me. He is full of grace, but He wants me to take His love and commands as seriously as ever.
My faith doesn’t look like it did in high school. But I’m not in high school anymore. My faith can be more beautiful and complex and intimate and passionate and adventurous than it has ever been.