In the beginning of the year, I believed that my faith in God was fixed–it couldn’t advance any more that it already had been. I believed that I was already in a great place with God, and there was no way I could move any closer to Him because I was content with where I was with God.
Of course, I know now that this kind of thinking was completely erroneous. Looking back, I realize that I was at a place where I was relatively distant from God. I was close enough where I could call out to Him when I needed Him, but I was far from TRULY following Jesus. I was far from giving up my cross and following Christ. I was satisfied with where I was: close enough to God to know that He is there for me, and know that He is good–but far from experiencing the true beauty of a relationship with Christ and being a Christ-follower.
Anyways, as we’re all thinking of New Years Resolutions for the New Year, the only word that popped up in my head was: Devotion.
A couple months later, during worship I had a vision of me and God. Behind me was the world and I was holding onto one end of a long string while God was holding onto the other end. On God’s end, He was shining brightly and smiling at me as I was slowly treading along the string. I was laboring to walk closer to Him, and every step was slow and difficult. During the time I saw this vision, I had no idea what it meant. I just thought that it solely meant that God was bidding me to come closer to Him. What did it mean? I wasn’t sure during that time.
A couple months after that, the Spirit tugged at my heart to give up some things that I made into an idol that I really, really did not want to give up. I stubbornly held onto the worldly things that I wanted to bury, and worldly desires that I kept close to me. I thought it would be okay to hold onto these things while following Christ, so I refused to obey Him for a long time. In fact, I almost just pretended that it didn’t exist. I thought that I could hold onto these things while following Christ by pretending like they simply didn’t exist and they weren’t things I needed to let go of. But at one point during the month, during God broke down my stubbornness, my unwillingness, my disobedience–and I was astonished. To my surprise, giving up these things didn’t make me feel despondent or miserable. Giving up these things made me experience the true freedom that God calls us to. I was in awe of the freedom Christ brings us, when we simply let go of our selfish, stubborn ways–and let God overwhelm our hearts and minds.
During the summer, I was falling into another state of complacency with God. I did all the ritualistic things–reading the word, praying, going to church, and serving–but something amidst all those activities was missing. I didn’t know what it was–until God revealed to me that the thing that was missing was simply my heart. For a long, LONG time I’ve adapted into a habit of living legalistic faith. Doing all the “right”, Christian things, I thought that my works alone would please God. But God once again broke down these thoughts and revolutionized a new process of thinking into my head. I cannot solely hold onto my performance to please God, I need to truly submit to Him and give Him my heart.
And now… I’m here. I’m slowly–one step at a time–learning what it really means to be His disciple. And it’s definitely not easy. God challenges me constantly to break out of my flesh and to resist my natural humanly inclinations. Though my sinful self is full of pride, bitterness, self-absorption, depression, anger, envy, and so on–God calls me to break out of my self and He bids me to draw nearer to Him every day. By rejecting these humanly, worldly things I can experience the freedom, peace, joy, and love that God calls me to.
[The path of discipleship] “To see the weakness and wrong in others, and at the same time refrain from judging them; to deliver the gospel message without casting pearls before swine, is indeed a narrow way. The way is unutterably hard, and at every moment we are in danger of straying from it. If we regard this way as one we follow in obedience to an external command, if we are afraid of ourselves all the time, it is indeed an impossible way. But if we behold Jesus Christ going on before step by step, we shall not go astray. But if we worry about the dangers that beset us, if we gaze at the road instead of at him who goes before, we are already straying from the path. For he is himself the way, the narrow way and the strait gate. He, and he alone, is our journey’s end.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I realize now that the vision I had seen with me walking along the string to God was an illustration of what God is doing in my life. As I’m slowly walking–laboring to come closer to Christ, God is calling me to throw away the world behind me and simply and wholeheartedly draw closer to his presence. He’s calling me to a life that’s in full devotion to Him.