Today’s guest blogger is Karen Gaul. Karen has been a biblical counselor since 1994 and is certified by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). She is dedicated to bringing the Word of God to light in the lives of his hurting children. She considers it an awesome privilege and honour to be able to walk with brothers and sisters in Christ to find healing, contentment, joy and peace in the Lord. This material is reposted with permission by the author. You can find this post and more of her writing here.
We have lived in our home now for 20 years. It seems to be the time when things begin to fall apart. We have had to replace water softeners and screens, and appliances. We have painted a few times, changed carpet to laminate and replaced furniture. Things generally just don’t last a life time.
When we moved into our home we put down some cement slabs for a sidewalk, that way we had a nice platform to the first of 3 steps onto the front porch. Over the years those slabs became uneven which was a problem in the winter months when you had to shovel snow. It wasn’t pleasant catching the end of one of the slabs as you were pushing snow, but the rest of the year you hardly noticed it. We also didn’t notice how the slabs had settled and the first step was a few inches higher than it was originally.
This past year we had those slabs realigned and leveled out again. I didn’t notice how bad it was before until the job was done. I went to take a step down from the steps onto the slabs and I didn’t go down quite as far. What a difference now, only a few inches, but definitely noticeable!
Sin is like that. Subtle. Over time things settle and shift and change and we don’t notice. We don’t notice until someone else mentions it, or we trip and fall over something.
Not paying attention!
We start out doing things well, we are focused and intent on spiritual discipline and routines…church attendance, bible reading, prayer. Then there is an occasional interruption to the routine and then another and another and pretty soon a different routine has begun and we aren’t sure how we got there.
We start out doing things that in and of themselves aren’t so bad. That list is endless. But like my cement slabs aren’t maybe so innocent if we don’t pay attention.
You can go from easy light conversation to a little more conversation, to sharing something intimate and before long you have office adultery happening.
You can go from a casual glass of wine and over time drinking to fall asleep or to de-stress after a long day at work.
You can spend time with an ungodly person and allow them to be your intimate circle and before long you find your church attendance is no longer consistent, and your love for the Lord waning because other things have taken priority.
You can be good stewards of your time and then slip into excessive doing which can lead to being discouraged when you seem to have become the “go to” person. Because this is also subtle all of a sudden you wake up bitter and done with serving and done with the church.
You can be saved by grace and know it, but over time if you don’t feed that you will forget and begin to do your spiritual walk with God by rote and routine and duty not out of passion.
You can start your marriage loving each other, spending time together, talking and then allow other distractions … kids, work, hobbies … to get in the way and before long you are married to a stranger.
Like my step it seemed fine. It wasn’t until it was repaired and built up that we really noticed how bad it had gotten. When things are bad and there is a crisis God then somehow gets our full undivided attention.
God gets our attention!
This is the time in our lives when we can do a couple of things. We can decide the hard work to repair and allow God to bring change into the situation is much too difficult and so we can despair and jump into a hole.
We can decide the work is too big and it will take too long and conclude that change will never be possible. Again despair sets in or running from the difficulty to find a more pleasant and “happy” place.
We can get angry and dig in our heels and blame everyone and everything around us and still nothing gets settled and changed.
Or we can do the hard work that God wants to bring about in whatever situation He has you in.
In a time of crisis what is really inside of us comes boiling to the surface. Luke 6:43-45
What is important to us always comes to the surface during a time of struggle
John MacArthur says “Whatever you love most will dominate your life.”
If happy, self-focus, pain focus, or any other thing dominates your thinking that will be the thing that you love the most. The Bible says what you love will rule your life whether you want it to or not. You see we function out of our hearts and our hearts are always passionate about something.
Pay Attention! (1 Peter 5:8)
Good relationships don’t just happen, whether that is with God or with a friend or with a spouse. They all take work. Without that work we will surely trip and fall. Satan loves to distract us, keep us busy and focused on ourselves. He loves to shrink our life down to our circumstances. But God wants us to see bigger, experience unexplainable joys, grow through trials, ultimately to reflect Christ more fully. Throughout Scripture we are called to stay alert and pay attention (2 Sam 5:24; 2 Kings 6:10; Isaiah 21:7; Ephesians 6:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:6). We can’t passively do life.
- What things are distracting you?
- How has your picture of God gotten incredibly small?
- What do you need to begin to do to allow Him to dominate your life more and more?