Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Spiritual Struggles (A Devotional of sorts)

First, let me state the obvious (if anyone is actually reading this):

I have not posted in a good while.

Yes, I have reasons. They are multiple, and varied. Some of them are even good, if not scrutinized too closely. But the main one, while certainly not being a good reason, is still a very important one.

So this it: expressed in very general terms, what follows is the main reason for not blogging in a long time.

I have had many spiritual struggles over the last 12 months. Some of these went to the core of my faith. I have been guilty of doubting, and I have questioned almost everything that I believed in, and stood for.

Most of it has probably been rooted in my unhappiness and dissatisfaction in life in general. Those few who are left of my family (my parents and grandparents have long been deceased, and I never had that large of a family to begin with) have suffered health problems, or are simply not even present in my life. I have been sometimes disappointed in friends and acquaintances (and I have sometimes disappointed them as well!). Work had lost some of its satisfaction and reward, and had at times, become simply a series of jobs to be done. Even church, once the highlight of my life, at times became simply a spiritual vacuum, an emptiness of soul that no measure of preaching and teaching, in a small but attractive sanctuary holding many warm and friendly fellow churchgoers, could fill.

Perhaps the turning point came at the end of one such service, when a horrifying thought surfaced from my hidden innermost springs of doubt: "What if this is all bogus?"

I would like to say that I immediately discounted that thought and repented of that sinful and condemning doubt. The truth is, I entertained that thought for several seconds. And I cannot explain why, but I believe the Holy Spirit in me would not allow me to fully accept it, but revealed to me the knowledge that I must reject it, because it is not of the truth. A few minutes later, I repented for it before God, silently, but not with a perfect heart. I did not realize it at the time, but my repentance came not from myself but from God, working in me by the Holy Spirit.

I have been discovering in my life since that point that repentance is not merely a confession of wrong, a profession of right, and a decision to pursue what is good. Rather, repentance is more: it is a true turning of the heart and the affections away from what is evil, towards that which is good, is brought about only by God through the Holy Spirit, and should be a part of daily life: a core part of my identity as a Christian.

I can report with joy what I have discovered and continue to affirm: Christ is still the answer! I cannot adequately explain what it means to turn to Christ and submit to the Holy Spirit, in obedience to the Word. But I can tell you that if you are a Christian, you must. And more importantly, you already know how: the Holy Spirit is your teacher, and brings you to Christ, and to the Father, through the Son and the Holy Spirit.

I still have some spiritual struggles. I have had to repent of many sins of doubt and disobedience. But through it all, Jesus Christ has been patient with me. And He is certainly a faithful High Priest. And strangely enough, the Bible seems to contain all the answers I need for worshiping in spirit and truth, and for doing service in obedience and submission to God.

Jesus is all I really need, or ever needed. Now I hope to learn to seek Him first, with devotion. I must learn to first seek His kingdom and His righteousness.

Mat 6:33 (NASB) "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

6 comments:

Grosey's Messages said...

Thank you Byron for sharing these deepest thoughts of your spiritual journey.
I absolutely understand what you have written, and for a few years, experienced that depth of doubt. I remember dealing with the thought that my own existence was something I could doubt (I guess doubting the reality of my own personal existence was the lowest point for me, and so I really enjoyed the movie the Matrix).
In many ways, I believe God uses these doubts to strengthen our faith, as we discover (through God's Sovereign will and grace) that our faith is the only reasonable faith, and in fact is true truth.
The factuality of the events around our Saviour's birth, life, miracles, death and resurrection are empirically true events, and are the truest of events that grounds our faith in historical reality and also in personal experience.
I too experienced great distress through family of origin issues, etc etc , and you have stimulated my thinking to wonder if these are not somehow related to the deep doubt period. Thank you for your well articulated article, and your deep thoughts.
Keep pressing on to know the Lord.
Steve

Byroniac said...

Thank you, Grosey, for your kind words.

Frankly, I'm amazed you wandered so far off the internet superhighway to find my little old backwoods corner (palm tree and miniature oasis in a vast desert?) of cyberspace. Do you realize how far off the approved communications path you have gone? I can only surmise that you are either hopelessly lost, or unusually bored, to have sought out my site. :)

Appreciate your visit

Grosey's Messages said...

aaaha put it down to God's sovereignty... 1 cor 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.

Sometimes the Lord brings friends along at just the right time.
2 Cor 7:6 But God, who comforts the humble, comforted us by the coming of Titus,

Particularly those that have gone through similar intense struggles.

2 Cor 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so our comfort overflows through Christ. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is experienced in the endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the comfort.

In the msot unusual ways and in the most unusual times the Lord has comforted me through unknown and distant friends...
Charlie riggs of the Billy Graham organisation has a very close friend (now in heaven) in Gene Warr. Charlie Riggs testimony ever given only once in public, in Australia, was an incredible and God-wraught comfort to me in my time of despair and doubt. I met Gene Warr in very unusual circumstances twice in a fortnight, once here and once in Oklahoma. The providences of God in our times of need are a tremendous encouragement to knowing the truth of Psalm 139:1 Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away.
3 You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways.
7 Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in • Sheol, You are there. 9 If I live at the eastern horizon [or]settle at the western limits,
10 even there Your hand will lead me; Your right hand will hold on to me.

Every Blessing brother Byron,
Steve

Byroniac said...

Steve:

Which Bible translation did you use for those verses? Was it the HCSB? That is one I do like (along with NASB, ESV, and NKJV. I grew up with the KJV or AV 1611, but I prefer more modern translations).

I hope someday to visit the land of Oz. I know very little about it, and I need to look at a map so I can find out where you are. I'd love to show up in church some Sunday morning! Knowing God's providence, it will probably be on a day when I really need to hear the message, too.

Grosey's Messages said...

yes, :) and I amy be on holidays too :)
give me a ring before you come..
Steve

selahV said...

Well,here I am, my friend. Went looking...why? the Lord just led me here. have I been here before?

I do appreciate your post, Byron. Doubt is simply a tool of the devil some say. He twists our words, other's words and turns them every way but straight and even when our hearts know that isn't the direction which we should go, we venture off till the Spirit of God pulls us back off the curbs of life.

I've been where you are. And have found the deepest truthes as a result of the emptiness of soul and poverty of spirit. Blessed is he who hungers and thirsts after righteousness, for he shall be filled.

Odd, that my dear friend Grosey is here in the house. Who would have thought? He is such a saint. Glad you have a righteous man praying for you. selahV