A while ago I diagnosed myself with being over the Gospel. How can I even admit such a thing!? I love Jesus and I’m a worship leader! Aren’t I supposed to be on some spiritual high at all times?
Well, here I was, God’s servant—dry, tired, and over it. I didn’t want to read—I had read it all before. Things the Lord has redeemed in my life were just filling my time, wasting my life away. Music, writing, working out, and connecting with people. All great things. All very empty apart from Jesus Christ.
God finally asked me, How long do you want to pursue these empty things?
I wasn’t convinced I should give in just yet. I protested, “I know you deserve my everything, but the cross is losing its luster, your love is just a song I’ve heard on the radio too many times. Thank you for saving ‘a wretch like me,’ but I’m tired and can’t figure out how to get out of this rut. I kind of want to waste time. I’m just over it.”
God is so patient, so loving. He gently reminded me of the words of David:
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” -Psalm 119:103
I knew I couldn’t sincerely say that about God’s Word.
Christine, you’re missing out. You can choose to sit here convinced you are stuck, or you can let me teach you what this means.
So I opened my Bible to the book of Judges—I wanted something I hadn’t read a million times before. Mind you, I still didn’t really want to read. I still didn’t expect God to speak, but I disciplined myself because I knew everything else was empty.
I started soaking in the stories, at first not particularly caring and unconvinced God had anything to share with me. A few chapters into Judges I began noticing how many times the Israelites forsook the God who had saved them and their ancestors. Over and over again God delivered the Israelites from their enemies. They would praise Him for a while, but the next generation would forget all they had heard and turn away.
God would let them worship their pointless idols, and soon they’d be in trouble again. Once things got really bad and their lives were jeopardized, they’d turn back to God and beg for Him to save them.
The Israelites had heard so many times that God was faithful. They had sung plenty of songs declaring the greatness of their God who had delivered them from slavery. It seems the generations just got over it.
How many times have I experienced God’s grace only to return to my old ways? He has freed me from slavery, but sometimes I act as though I’m still in bondage. He has revealed truth, but I still dapple with emptiness as if I don’t know He’s the only One who will ever satisfy. Just like the Israelites, I’ve sung (and written) songs about His love, salvation, His holiness and my unworthiness. And yet I get over it.
I got to Judges 10. The Israelites are in trouble again, so they cry out to God. Instead of rescuing them right away, God lists all the people He has saved them from in the past. As I read the list of Egyptians, Amorites, Ammonites, and other people groups I can’t pronounce, God was listing things in my own heart like depression, confusion, bitterness, despair, blindness, and insecurity.
In an instant I had an image of who I was before God saved me and who I easily could have become without His intervention. If it weren’t for His grace, I wouldn’t truly be alive. In fact, I may not be alive at all.
God has been so good to the Israelites, and He’s been so good to me. “But you have forsaken me,” God says, “and served other gods…Let [the gods you have chosen] save you when you are in trouble!” (Judges 10:13 & 14).
For a moment the Israelites are left to experience firsthand what their other gods are capable of—nothing. I was sure that God had been allowing me to taste, again, how empty everything else is.
I read on. The Israelites plead with the Lord to rescue Him, and God does. Victory! And I realized He had rescued me once again from my complacency.
I was feeling optimistic for Israel’s future. Surely hearing God list everything He’s done for them would kick them back into shape. You’d think watching God save them again would be enough to straighten them for life.
But I got to Judges 13:1. “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, so the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.”
Will they ever learn? Will I?
I’m remarkably prone to wander off in search of other things that satisfy. Like Israel, I learn the same lessons again and again.
Next time I’m tempted to get over it and choose to put other things before Him, I pray I will I listen to God’s voice when He warns, This will leave you empty!
I’m fairly confident I will always be tempted to place something in front of God in my life, but I’m also recognizing an anecdote: I am incapable of staying over God when I recognize who He is. A cross can become an empty symbol, a song a pointless melody, but the reality of His character and relentless love for a rebel like me pierces through the emptiness. When I see who He is, I see myself more clearly, and I can’t remain unmoved.
I’m realizing you can’t discipline yourself to love God, but you can discipline yourself to spend time with God. And when you get to know Him, it’s hard not to fall in love.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
I hope I refuse to chase emptiness next time the opportunity comes—I know the truth! Yet I’m in awe of His incredible faithfulness to take me back each time I choose to learn the same lesson over again.