-I used to run – Now I am learning the art of submission-
“…How long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart everyday? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?” (Psalm 13:1-2).
For a period of my adult life, I too asked God ‘HOW LONG?’
And though I directed these questions at God, I recognised no sign of change taking place in my life. So, while reading verse three of the same Psalm, I made it my own:
“Turn and answer me, Oh Lord my God! Restore the light to my eyes, or I will die”.
I realised then, that it wasn’t that God refused to answer me but that the light in my eyes needed restoring. My life wasn’t in line with God’s will, so in effect there was a barrier blocking the transition. I was hooked up to the wrong frequency.
First, I needed to switch channels in order to hear from Him. Until this point in my life, I hadn’t recognised the death of my spiritual life.
[You could play my life out before me, and I wouldn’t see anything wrong.]
As far as I was concerned, all was well.
I was brought up in a Christian home - been in church before I could understand its relevance to my upbringing. I was taught the ways of Christ and accepted Him in my life at thirteen years old. Being brought up with Christian grandparents – I lived a sheltered life. Having been baptised, nothing much changed. I continued going to church and taking part in all the activities (well, that’s what I thought it meant to be a Christian – loving all God’s creatures and going to church [helping out in whatever way we can]). So that’s how I lived for most of my Christian walk.
Then, when the struggles of my adult years came, I wasn’t quite prepared. Frustration, confusion and anger became the order of the day. Going to church just didn’t do it for me anymore – I wanted more. I started to question God. I wanted to know why bad things were happening to someone, like me, who has given my life to Him and going to church, doing all I thought I was supposed to do. I was in the boxing ring without a referee and an opponent. I never felt so alone and still, the anger grew within me.
I used to be happy –
Then sadness became my company.
I used to pray –
Now all I do is complain.
Everything and every one were to blame.
I used to give –
Now there’s nothing left within.
Then I realised –
My soul wasn’t satisfied.
While my face carried a smile –
It was turmoil inside.
Over the years, my direction was changing. My focus was on things of the world and not of Christ. At different stages my studies, career and relationship took the place of Christ. Always an exam I had to study for; targets to reach and bosses to please. Then came marriage and the focus was marriage maintenance, to the point of placing my husband on that throne – how wrong I was. God is a jealous God and will not share our affection with any other gods. So effectively, I was breaking at least one of the commandments.
What I found out since is this: If one breaks a commandment, upon examination of oneself, one will realise that there are other commands that are affected. And if we aren’t obeying the commandments we are not walking right and cannot enter God’s presence.
The bible tells us in Psalm 15: 1-5 what we need to do to enter God’s presence:
‘Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts…’.
Reading a passage like this and looking at the commandments at face value, I believed I was walking right with God. So I couldn’t understand why I was still struggling. Since then, I have gone beyond the face values of the commands. I was found wanting in so many areas that I had to hang my head in sorrow and shame. I fell so short I had to get on my knees and ask for God’s forgiveness.
Below are some of my shortcomings that came to light during this process. I hope that they will help you to analyse your lifestyle and see where you fall short:
1. Do not worship any other god’s besides me (Exodus 20:3)
I wouldn’t dream of doing anything like this but the truth is – I was wearing the title of ‘Christian’ not realising the sacrifice it takes to be a believer in Christ. My grandma once said:
‘You have to light a candle to find a good man these days’.
I found one and treated him like a king – he was my ‘everything’. When I speak about him to my friends, they were just amazed. Some even said:
‘No way! He can’t be as good as you’re making out – they don’t exist anymore’!
But I dared to prove them wrong.
What I didn’t realise is that I was idolising my husband in such a way that I couldn’t see his faults. I was worshiping the good side of him. I did everything to please him, but in doing so, I took lightly the following command:
2. “Do not make idols of any kind, whether in the shape of birds or animal or fish. You must never worship or bow down to them. For I the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god!” (Exodus 20:4-5)
By putting aside this command, I was also disobeying another command. The one which says:
3. “Do not steal” (Exodus 20::15)
Well, ‘tithing’ was not of importance where our finances were concerned. We would pay the bills; treat each other to the theatre, cinema, have a shopping spree; and then we would make an offering from what was left. In effect, we were putting God last – robbing Him of what was rightfully His (first fruits of our labour). The time I use to spend with God was now time spent with my husband. Though I lacked the understanding at the time, I was still paying the price for my lack of knowledge. As Hosea 4:6 highlights ‘My people perish because they don’t know me’.
It took my husband to disappoint me, for my eyes to be open to these things.
“…people may be pure in their own eyes but the Lord examines their motives” (Proverbs 16:2).
So here’s what I did:
I stopped depending on church sermons alone to give me direction. I started to dig deep into the Word of God. Rather than directing my angry thoughts and questions at God, I started to ask Him for direction. Then the most beautiful thing happened - I started to hear from Him and receive His guidance. During this process I developed a relationship with God, by taking my prayer life more serious. I now regularly examine self; trying to apply each commandment to every aspect of my life. I find that though I’m on a journey and there’s a lot more to learn, “The Holy Spirit teaches me” and I find that I receive the strength I need to take me through each day that I am blessed with.
So I encourage you today to examine your lifestyle and practice, not a few, but all the commandments. It’s a matter of life and death. Church leaders cannot save you. Neither can they teach you everything you need to know. But God did send His son to teach us how to walk in line with Him. He then died on the cross, paying the price for our sins and reconnecting us with God. We also have the Holy Spirit to teach us and the “Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6).
So put on the whole armour of God. Spend some time searching for the answers, to life’s questions, in the bible. When you do, you’ll be able to sing in tune with His Word, saying to others: ‘It offers rest to weary hearts, hope for the sinner, guide for the youth and staff for the aged… When time and the world pass away God’s Word will forever endure’.
Learning to submit to the will of God makes living so much easier. If you haven’t yet discovered the secret of living why don’t you try submitting to God’s will?
Here are some questions to help you put things into perspective as you journey on…
• Is anyone or anything taking the place of God in your life?
• Are you tuned into the right channel?
• Are you waiting for your church leaders to provide all the answers?
• Where does your strength come from?
Janice, a freelance writer, lives in the UK and enjoys spending time with her husband, Vince and their son, Javin. She uses her gift to encourage others towards a deeper relationship with God, through her inspirational pieces while her travel articles provide general advice for the holiday-maker.