Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Devotions: Your Value and Mine

I've seen a pattern develop with followers of Christ. It goes something like this.

FIRST: Christianity is something that is passed down to you thru felt boards, bible stories, facts. It's a surface faith.
NEXT: A transition of being passed down to being shown Christianity. Now this for me happened in maturing into the mid-teen years. Hearing all these stories of the Bible and once having a collection of these stories recognizing the same selfless character of these stories into the lives around you that touch you.

THEN: You start to understand the genuineness of Jesus Christ, that He is tangible. This unearthly joy overwhelms, this belief system transitions from a surface to an internal and to a point that you decide that this love of God is the best thing to give your heart to.

THEN AGAIN: After a decision is made your response is to find avenues to share to serve, and usually this spreads you thin because you agree to too many things, you see so many needs and in a way you want to meet them.
THEN AGAIN & AGAIN: This becomes overwhelming because you get caught up in meeting other peoples needs that you don't take or prioritize your own time to be fed yourself on the word of God and prayer. This leads into what i call 'THE DIP' in your new found experience of walking with your God. It's a lull, a spiritual halt. You can become disinterested, remove yourself from areas of service, and stop almost all together on devotions, and slowly reside into a mandatory once a week God time and thats because of the obligation of church.

I've seen many a friend and myself submit to this slump. I hate being in the low and if you stay there long enough it becomes a bitter apathy. How can one avoid this? How can one get out of this?

If you are a burn out, and one at both ends, jumping back into the game by trying to serve again will bury you deeper and quicker like falling into a vat of quicksand. The condition must be addressed at the door of your heart. Where have you stopped letting Jesus into your heart? When was the last time you felt so close to God, like He was the dearest friend? THAT is where you must start again. Out of all in your life, the Love of God requires more then all the others in your life.

"Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul, and mind" Matt. 22:37

It requires a complete submission because God loves YOU in this fullness and more. So to respond to this ALL giving love with only a bit of yourself WILL leave you unfulfilled and direction less. The thing about the verse above is that this was Jesus' response to a question "What is the greatest commandment of all?" and Jesus responds "be in a loving relationship with me with ALL of you". Now what better way to see this fullness of Gods love then hearing it everyday?

I recently came to this conclusion. Two months into touring i felt burnt out, much service with no time of feeding yourself equals much burn out! I was eating dinner with some friends and i just said out lout "God i miss us" and as soon as i had said that i heard in my head "I want you to have time with me everyday so you can hear me say that i love you". I started tearing up right there with joy and sadness. Its so easy to dismiss time with God, to put it on the back burner of the day, 'oh i can do it later' symptoms. Getting back into this time with God at first kinda feels like a chore, but don't let your feelings and mind fool you. Push beyond the 'oh i can do it later' symptoms and start your day with "God i want to hear you say you love me". It is okay to confess your neediness to God, it is the safest place to do so! This love of God in this time of devotions enables you to do more then survive your day. It empowers you to see this world as Jesus does, to see His power over the stresses, to see His provision in all your needs, to see His forgiveness in all your brokenness. This time also isn't just for yourself, it allows you to see this world as Jesus sees it in the same way as it breaks His heart. My favorite verse are these words by Jesus "I have come to give life and give it to the fullest". To hear this at the beginning of my day makes a difference that i don't want to live a day without.

For me this time has made me feel the worth God has for me. But also it has made me see the value God has on all His creation. I admit there are times that i see people and think them obnoxiously strange and irritating, but then i think "God treasures this person, He adores them, He sees them on the inside" and this, this makes me want to love on them too. Once returning to where you last had a personal encounter with God, confronting your apathy, seeing your worth in Gods eyes, then and ONLY then will you be able to love and serve again.

Friends, My fellow burnouts, You can shine again, but not only that, you can burn brighter. Recover with me, then be the revival this world needs to hear. God's love is greater and bigger then any oppression, we cannot be hurt more then we our loved!

Peace unto you!


wonder said...

beautiful! my goodness. i needed that.

i got called today by two potential jobs: an interview at wachovia securities to be a broker, and a hostel in nazareth to volunteer.

at 28, is it too late to keep putting my life on hold? do i pursue the career path as a gift from God? my heart is so heavy and the only thing that gives relief is to lean on him.

Angela said...

"we cannot be hurt more than we are loved". I want that to sink into my heart.

I also want to add: "cannot be stressed more than we are loved"; and write it on a post-it note to read every day.

Thank you so much for your thoughts, Tommy, I can tell they come from a very sincere place- and know that I am praying for you as you reignite with Christ, and rest and recoup with God.

erica said...

tommy boy... i only love.

this post was inspired...

ellen said...

so good tommy toms

Anonymous said...

tommy, thanks. your words were Spirit, led to be sure.

it is the biggest act of faith, i have found, to deny "tasks" on my very full plate and to instead invest in time with my Savior. it takes faith, because I must set aside my fears of failure and defeat to fully embrace the fact that it's not up to me to help anyone or get anything done of value to the Kingdom of Christ. IT's up to God to do the work. He can move so much more powerfully through one of my tiny baby steps in this world if I truly have His heart in mind. As opposed to, me running huge strides in my own direction of frantic attempts to help everyone around me and complete everything that has set before me.

just some thoughts. thanks again.