I had been coming home a little on edge. I was not necessarily fun to be around, from my wife’s perspective. And I was missing my kids’ soccer practices since I was so busy. So they weren’t happy with me. I was cranking, working hard, giving a lot, and under a ton of stress. I was handling things outside of my comfort zone, so I didn’t feel competent, making decisions that have huge implications on people’s lives, and I didn’t feel with certainty it was the right call. And I had to teach, and honestly, the last thing I wanted to do was teach. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die.
I prepped. And I studied. And I taught. And it felt like flesh. It felt like me. It felt like the message was a giant run-on sentence, one ginormous blah, blah, blah, blah. I finished the message, went home, and of course, I couldn’t sleep, beating myself up: You shouldn’t have said that, you should have said that, you missed that, you misquoted that, you said um 150 times. What the heck is wrong with you?
Some assume it happens over decades. I love Jesus, then not as much the next year, and then not as much the next year, and the next year not as much. But it can happen in a moment. Literally, overnight.
I go to bed and realize I have to get back with the Lord. He hasn’t gone anywhere. The problem is not the Lord; the problem is me. I’m trying to do this in my own strength, I’m trying to wrestle my life to the ground on my own – and it’s too much.
I began to look at my spiritual life. What does my time in the word look like? What does my time in prayer look like? And I realize it’s scarce, if not non-existent. So I spend good time with the Lord, and good time in prayer and good time in my Bible – and the funny thing is, my wife likes me more, and it’s fascinating how my kids want to snuggle with me now, and I actually have the time. When my life gets crazy, I get very selfish. I need this. I need that. When my life is about other people, that’s where I find joy.
I walked into OSH, and I saw this guy with his wife sitting on patio furniture. I was feeling full, so I said, “Oh dude, you have got to have it.”
“Yeah, it’s like three grand,” he said.
“Well, happy wife, happy life.”
“If I buy this, you have to come party with us later.”
“If you need a truck, let me know.” And I walked away.
Five minutes later, this guy walked up and asks, “Were you serious?”
“That’s why I bought a truck, so I could help people. Do you need it?”
I loaded his furniture into my truck – and while he didn’t live right down the street, but way down the street, I left with joy. And that’s what I’m talking about. That’s what I love. If I’m in myself, if I’m in the flesh, if I’m being selfish, I’m not going to offer that guy anything. I don’t have time for that guy.
Don’t forget your first love. Recognize from where you have fallen, repent, and do the deeds that you did at first (see Revelation 2:4-5).
The challenge is to check our hearts day by day, moment by moment, and process what it means to stay connected to Him.
If there is stress, frustration, fruitlessness, then you are not abiding. You are not being filled by Him and His strength.
If there’s a word that I would like to define my life, it’s abide. Because when I abide in Him and He abides in me – and literally, abide means to sink deeply into, to remain in – when I remain in Him, and He remains in me, and when I sink deeply into Him, and He sinks deeply into me, I bear much fruit. But apart from Him, I can do nothing. Not that I can’t do some things or I’m not as effective. No. You can’t do jack without Him (see John 15:5).
- Slow down
- Go for a walk
- Enjoy the breeze
- Read your Bible – not for the mind, for the heart
- And make sure what you’re doing, you’re doing out of an abiding, connective relationship with Him