Sometimes I feel as though my attempts to build friendships are thwarted. Being in a new area and a new church, I have been determined to attend every possible fellowship-building event. However, sick kids, snowstorms, misbehaving kids, serving in children’s ministry, more sickness, and more snowstorms have taken their toll over the last couple of months. Events that I am able to attend (and church services I am actually able to participate in) have been the exception rather than the rule, and loneliness has set in.
If a friend in the same situation asked my advice, I would have told her that the Lord was probably drawing her to Himself and to look to Him for comfort, fellowship, and strength. Have I been following my own advice? No.
The very circumstances that God orchestrated to remind me to lean on Him I have used as excuses that I’m too busy to spend time with Him.
You know what is the saddest part of all? I have been thinking more about missing human friendships than missing sweet communion with the King of the universe and the Savior of my heart.
As I collapsed into bed last night, exhausted from a long day of vomit, croupy coughing, Mr. Fix-It working late, pedialyte and vaporub, I cried out to the Lord. “God, I’m so exhausted and alone. I can’t do this.” And He so graciously reminded me that He has never left me alone, and He is here to give me the strength that I need if I seek Him.
The Lord blessed me with a good night’s sleep (rare when the kids are sick) and the ability to wake before them this morning and read my Bible (which I had to really look for; how sad is that?!). Despite my repeated, stubborn attitude that I don’t need God, He compassionately met me in His Word, specifically Nehemiah 9. The Israelites are praising the Lord for His consistent compassion on them despite their consistent, stiff-necked rebellion against Him.
16“But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. 18Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, 19you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go. 20You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. 21Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.”
Just as He did for Israel, God, in His compassionate mercy, has continued to lead me and provide for me despite my rebellion. Just in the last week He has given us a house, along with family and friends to help us fix it up. But I have claimed to be “too busy” for the Lord because I am preparing for the move and taking care of sick children.
He has certainly not treated me as my sins deserve (Psalm 103:10). Moreover, although I deserve to be separated from God for this very sin, I can still fellowship with Him. On the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for my stubborn refusal to seek Him. Since He brought me to my senses, I can once again enjoy that wonderful communion with my God. How compassionate and merciful He is!
To be clear, the sin that I committed wasn’t “missing my quiet times,” but having a heart attitude that I didn’t have time for God’s Word and didn’t really need God that much. If I genuinely didn’t have 30 minutes to sit down and read the Bible, but I looked for ways to seek the Lord during my day, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post!