Last night I was convicted by the number of times in recent weeks I have allowed distraction to keep me from seeking Yahweh.
I think it is a widely held misconception that when you have given your life to Yahshua, that you automatically begin to hear from Heaven and all is magically well with your soul. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that transformation always happens all at once, and that we remain changed without any significant effort on our part.
While Yahshua’s redeeming love is transformative in nature, and His grace is sufficient for us, we still have to work out our salvation. What that means is, we have to choose to continue to pursue Yahweh and the things of Yahweh in order to continue becoming, otherwise we will inevitably fall back into comfortable, oftentimes destructive patterns and habits. When we invite Yahweh into our dark spaces, He gifts us the courage to face our imperfection, and gives us the grace and light to overcome by His Spirit. It’s in the process of working out our faith that we begin to change, that we begin to let go of flawed mindsets and inconsistencies. Just like anything else, faith grows stronger when you work it. And the process of working your faith and thus ridding yourself of those things that keep you a part from Yahweh is called sanctification. Sanctification is not a one-time thing – we have to die to ourselves daily. It requires discipline and determination – two things that I’m constantly developing. As long as we live we will have flaws to work on, pain to contend with, and adversity to overcome. We are sinful by nature, and so in order to overcome the sinful nature and instead embrace the spiritual, we have to constantly engage our lesser selves in spiritual battle. It comes with the territory of being a believer, but you also become more skilled at war strategy and combat as time passes.
When I really began to take my faith walk seriously, (which was about a year ago, despite being in church all my life), I often felt overwhelmed by the inadequacy of my sacrifices to Yahweh. I had a lot of works-based righteousness misconceptions, (the idea that I could earn Yahweh’s love and favor by simply doing good things instead of drawing close to Him and being changed by Him through the power of His love), and they were stopping me from seeing Yahweh for who He truly is to me – a Father. I didn’t understand that He loves me no matter my state, but that I benefit from relationship with Him much, much more than He benefits from relationship with me. It’s an unfair deal, but I cannot deny that I’m my best self when I’m close to Yahweh.
Last night in the light of my conviction, I started beating myself up. Yahweh is in conviction, not the subsequent self-berating activity we sometimes engage in as a result of being made aware of our short-comings. The Holy Spirit gently reminded me of a revelation I had a few weeks ago: the way we express our love, gratitude to, and honor for Yahweh is by choosing Him.
We choose Him.
Me being angry at myself wasn’t helping the situation, I needed to get up and do something, I needed to make a choice. That sounds simple, but in your daily life it may not be, at least not at first.
Human beings are inherently selfish, and considering someone else in the midst of every decision you make can pose a challenge. For those of you who are in romantic relationships, I assume you’ve figured out that love isn’t always about how you feel; more often than not it’s about a decision that you’ve made in regards to how you will treat a person that you proclaim to love, regardless of the circumstances.
My parents have been married for almost thirty years, and I’ve learned from watching them interact that you don’t always feel like loving someone. You don’t always feel like being dedicated and committed to them, you don’t always feel like being considerate of their feelings, you don’t always feel like carving out space and time in your life for another soul to occupy. But the thing that keeps love alive when favorable feelings aren’t present is dedication to the actions and habits that are indicative of and conducive to love.
Loving means choosing, and so often we want to separate loving Yahweh from choosing Him in our daily life. How do you profess to love someone but continue to be inconsiderate of their opinion, or even worse, never even think to ask what it is? We often want the benefit of His blessings without the influence of His heart on our decisions and actions, and I think that’s unfair of us.
We live in a society that is distracted. We have access to more information and entertainment than any generation before us has had. We can go all day and night without ever experiencing silence, or having a moment of introspection.
So in the midst of this accessible distraction, choosing to spend time with Yahweh can be difficult, but it also makes it more significant I feel. Intimacy is born out of quality time spent in the presence of another person. It’s the same in our spiritual lives.
We’d like to believe that once we pray the sinner’s prayer and go to church once a week, everything will be peachy, when in reality, that’s the very beginning. How would you feel if the person you’re dating only makes an effort to see or talk to you once a week?
If it were me, I’d be single, let me tell you.
Community is important, but it’s the time you spend alone in Yahweh’s presence that really shapes your view of Him, your opinion of Him, and allows you to see a side of Him that you just can’t see surrounded by other people. Likewise, it’s in His presence where we begin to see ourselves more clearly-both the good and the bad. When He graciously shines light on areas of our being s that require attention, renovation, and sometimes complete restoration, we are then charged with the duty to undergo the work. Intimacy with Yahweh changes us, and this is why we feel a void when we neglect pursuing His presence in favor of other things.
If I’m honest, I can admit that when I’m allowing myself to be distracted or choosing not to spend time with Yahweh, it’s because I’m running from myself. My relationship with Yahweh for the past year has looked like a parent drawing a startled and dejected child out of hiding again and again. He has been holding me in His arms while He shows me the broken pieces of Daniah, the things I need to work on. I don’t always feel like working on myself, sometimes complacency is attractive and I just want to rest for a moment. But purpose requires action and constant self-improvement. I will never reach a place where I am above becoming.
True intimacy makes you uncomfortable sometimes. This is true of human relationships, and also of the one we have with Yahweh. It’s vulnerable and goes against the grain of our tendency to want to protect the softest and most fragile parts of who we are. Intimacy removes the veils and smoke screens from our true selves and leaves us naked and exposed. That’s not always an easy thing, but in the context of relationship with Yahweh, it’s always a good thing. I’ve written about intimacy in this space before, but you cannot talk about choosing Yahweh and loving Yahweh without talking about intimacy.
When you choose to spend time with Him, you find that choosing Him in other aspects of your life is much easier. We can choose Yahweh in everything – where we go, how we respond to people, who we associate with, how we use our time, our work ethic. Yahweh does not want to be relegated to one category of your life – He wants an all-access pass to every part of your being. I distinctly remember asking Yahweh to swing open all the doors of my life and manifest His presence in every single corner of every room. He’s made good on this request, but I must admit that it has shifted a lot of things in my life. Things cannot remain the same way they were before Yahweh touches them. His love and power is so effective that things have to change when He’s around them. And these changes may not always feel good, but even corrective surgery is still painful.
But today I’m getting back to my center, I’m choosing Him. And I know it will ultimately change me for the better. Don’t allow the distractions of life to stop you from choosing Yahweh, and worshipping Him in even the mundane tasks that occupy your day. There’s always a way to choose Him.