Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Spiritual Kick in the Pants

Have you ever had a spiritual kick in the pants? A wake-up call from God? I've had multiple times in my life when I was shaken out of my relative apathy into rapt attention.

In Revelation 3, God addresses the church in Laodicea and comments that he will spit them out of His mouth because they are lukewarm. We also know from Hebrews 12:6 that the Lord disciplines those He loves. Sometimes He sends things across our paths that wake us up from complacency so we can return to Him. Or difficulties come our way that might not be from God, but He uses them to renew our faith.

Recently, I've been going through a trial. This trial has propelled me to cry out to God in my questioning, in the darkness, in the pain. It's caused me to sense Jesus' presence when I need it most and reminded me that He can relate to any suffering that comes my way. I pray that this sense of intimacy with God can be sustained even after the worst part of the trial has passed. We all know how easily we can fall back into old habits when the sense of urgency is gone.

Through this situation I'm experiencing, I've realized that it is certain that difficulties will come our way in life. Occasionally I partially create those difficulties through my own poor choices. But many times things just happen and couldn't have been forseen or prevented. Christians are not immune to difficulties. In fact, 1 Peter 4:12 says we should not be surprised when we suffer. And James 1:2 says we should consider it a joy when we encounter trials.

We can't avoid trials, but we can know one thing for certain: God is with us during them. There are many encouraging passages to this effect in the Bible, but here is one that has been meaningful to me recently:

"'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn are precious in My are honored and I love you...Do not fear, for I am with you..." Isaiah 43:1b-2, 4a, 5a (NASB)

How reassuring to know that God loves us and is with us each moment of each day! Sometimes even when I'm not "feeling" His presence I repeat truth to myself so I remember what's right. That's why Scripture memory, though not my strong suit, can be so helpful. In the moment of need, it is easier to pull out a helpful verse from your mind than to hope a Bible will be nearby and that you'll have the wherewithal to open it and find an apt verse.

My latest spiritual wake-up call has pressed me to a greater commitment to Bible reading, prayer, and more consistently looking to Him throughout my day for every need instead of filling myself up with empty things.

I've also had a kick in the pants from a book I recently started reading, A Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision. I'm only a handful of chapters in, and it's already opening my eyes to the plight of the world's poor and how helping them is part of bringing the kingdom of God to earth. I encourage you to check it out if you're looking for an interesting read.