Tuesday was rough. Second 12 hour shift in a row, left work late, met a friend for dinner and got our food about 1.5 hours late, walked back to my car to find it GONE. Yes. Gone. As in, no where in sight.
I don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to remembering where I parked and not getting lost… thus, my first thought was that I had simply done it again. When it became clear this was not the case, my thoughts progressed to, “OMG SOMEONE STOLE MY CAR?!?!!?” Yes. I think in all caps with endless, unnecessary punctation. But then my friend pointed out the “Towing Enforced” sign a few spaces down from where I parked. And when I say “a few spaces down,” what I really mean is it was right in front of my parking spot. I remember seeing the sign, but I was so brain-dead from work that I don’t remember really thinking about it.
Needless to say, I learned my lesson the hard way. Money down the drain. Why? Because I wasn’t keeping my mind engaged, because I completely ignored something that was staring me in the face. How often do we do this when it comes to our spiritual walk?
After a long day at work, I want nothing more than to turn my brain off and mindlessly watch some TV or eat my weight in carbs. I justify it by telling myself I deserve to enjoy my night and relax after a stressful day. That’s all fine and dandy, but I shouldn’t overlook things – intentionally or unintentionally – simply because I had a long day.
The same is true of our spiritual lives. It’s easy to get blindsided and distracted from our task of serving Him. Just as our work/school lives become a routine, that same habitual mindset creeps into our spiritual lives. We start going through the motions to simply get through them. Intentionalism fades and is replaced with mindless routine. Our sensitivity to the things above diminishes as we reach the point of tolerance. And when I use the word “tolerance” there, I’m referring to the kind of tolerance an addict experiences. As an addict engages in recreational drug use, they grow tolerant of the effects of the drug. They need a bigger hit to achieve the same high. Their bodies are no longer as sensitive to the substance.
Is this true for us too? Have we grown tolerant of God’s love for us? Hold up – is that even possible?? Have we been fooled into thinking we need Him to be more for us? Was the cross not enough?
When the Lord makes Himself known in our lives, do we recognize Him? Or have we become desensitized to His presence? Think about a child trying to get his mother’s attention. He would likely try speaking to her first. If she doesn’t take note, he might use a little more volume and intensity with his words. If she still doesn’t pay him any attention, he might progress to throwing a tantrum or making a mess or rebelling in some way. God should not have to go to great lengths to get us to notice Him, to consider Him. And to even say that…that we should simply consider Him? That just sounds crazy. First of all, the fact that He ever considered us is mind-blowing. Secondly, we shouldn’t be obligated into thinking about Him – that should be the natural desire of our hearts. Thirdly, who are we that God would desire for us to consider Him?
It’s a weird analogy, I know… but I hope you understand the point I’m trying to make. God literally moves things in our lives so that we might desire Him above all else. He removes the distractions, He lights up the path which leads to Him, He nudges us when we’re going the wrong way. But do we take heed?
He speaks to us, but we don’t listen. So He speaks louder, but by this point we don’t even hear Him. He grabs our hand, but we shake Him off. So He stands in our way, blocking us from taking our own stubborn path, but we just push Him aside. He removes the things we love more than Him from our lives so that we might realize He’s the only One worth loving; but we just replace those worthless things with more worthless things. He blesses us with people, conversations, relationships meant to point us back to Him; but we think “we got this” and ignore each of these blessings. So then He completely interrupts our lives to the point where any believer on the right path would be able to recognize that the Lord is showing such mercy and grace in trying to bring their hearts back to Him; but we just don’t care. And so He backs off. He let’s us walk our own stubborn path. Eventually we reach a breaking point. Brokenness ensues. And finally, we reach out to Him because He’s all that’s left. In the midst of the rubble surrounding us, the weight crushing us, the strength failing us, He is still there.
You see, it’s a progression. A progression that springs forth out of a Love that can’t be understood. A progression that concludes with a Love that only astounds us even more after we experience it.
When we are desensitized to the Lord, to the things above, we only hurt ourselves. But this “desensitization” – it’s not something any of us actively engage in. Most of us aren’t thinking, “Hmm, how can I get as far from God as possible?” No, most of us want to know Him. Most of us want to want Him more. But somewhere along the way, we start losing focus. We let our brains take a break. We allow our hearts to relax a little too much. And slowly the poison sets in. We don’t notice it at first…but it’s there, paralyzing us limb by limb, hardening our hearts with each beat.
God is good. And that’s an understatement. He is ever so patient and always forgiving. He is faithful and gracious and merciful. When He speaks to us, it’s out of Love. When He blesses us, it’s out of Love. When He admonishes us, disciplines us, teaches us, encourages us – all of this is out of Love for us. When we ignore Him, when we brush Him aside, not only do we break His heart, but we spit in His face too. We say, “My way is better. I know what I’m doing. I got this.” But His plan is better y’all. Always. Even if it hurts. His desires for us are only good, only the BEST.
So don’t tune Him out. Don’t ignore His whispers to your heart. Engage your mind with thoughts of Him; set your heart on the things above. When He speaks, listen. When He blesses you, be thankful. When He disciplines you, rejoice that you have a Father who cares for you. When He warns you, heed His words. When He removes what you love, rejoice in the fact that something better is right around the corner.
Getting my car towed was a careless mistake. I chose to ignore the sign in front of me. I pray that in the coming days, I don’t make the same mistake in my walk with the Lord. When He beckons, I want to run to Him. When He disciplines, I want to learn and grow in Him. When He shakes up my life, I want to remain firm in Him.
May we never grow tolerant of Him, may we never demand Him to be more for us, may we always be sensitive to His whispers.