Study, Abide, Linger

It feels like forever since I’ve written consistently. Forever since I’ve had the time to sit down and be alone with God, filling my mind with thoughts about him and pouring my affections out onto paper. Sometimes I question whether blogging was just a phase I went through, and if it’s time to put the digital pen down and walk away. I often wonder if it was a seasonal thing. It’s always about the time that I resolve to accept this that the itch comes back, that twitching of the fingers. That soul-stirring compulsion. That realization that writing isn’t something seasonal and is more than a phase. That writing isn’t about writing at all, but is rather an overflow of what God has been doing in my heart and mind.

My then fiancée (now my wife!) and I went to the Linger Conference over Valentine’s weekend. The whole point of the conference was that we need to “linger” in the presence of the Lord. Todd Wagner pointed out that the Biblical word He would use for this is “abide.” To linger with God is to live in His presence, to dwell deep. Some of what Todd said made me realize that while we are free from having to force ourselves to have ritualistic “quiet times,” it is these very moments of study, reading, and writing that tend to drive my ability to abide in Him. My thoughts turn inward quickly without those (hopefully) daily times of reading Scripture and books expounding on the gospel. My heart begins to conform back to the world instead of being transformed by the gospel through the Scriptures.

If all this affected was writing, I could probably shrug it off. But it affects so much more. First and foremost, it affects my relationship with God. It doesn’t change the status: I’m still His. It changes the closeness I feel toward Him. It makes me prone to sin rather than fight for holiness. It makes it easier for me to be selfish instead of sacrifice for my wife. It makes it easier to undo the witness I’ve had online and in person. It makes it easier for Satan and sin to creep in and destroy my marriage to Angela.

There is absolutely grace for this. There is absolutely freedom to rest in being His and I don’t feel like I have to earn that. There is room to trust Christ to be strong for me, it’s even commanded.

Here’s where the danger is though: that’s exactly what I’m supposed to do. It’s tempting to say that the Bible doesn’t say to rest in Christ but to step up and fight for holiness with all you’ve got. And the Bible can say that, with an amazing amount of proof-texting and taking a hatchet to the gospel. Yet, that’s where we tend to go wrong so many times. We stop realizing that the effort that the Bible does tell us to expend in fighting sin is all grace driven effort. The commands God gives to “do this” or “don’t do that” are based firmly on the work Christ has already done.

Yet, when I stop taking those moments to get away with the Lord, when I stop abiding in Him, I start trying to pick up the sword to cut off Goliath’s head instead of remembering that any ability I have to do that is based in Christ’s killing the giant I could never kill. When I stop studying and abiding I start to think that I’m doing this all on my own. Self-righteousness creeps in and grace is pushed out. Discernment turns to quick-witted comments instead of gracious intercession. Weakness turns into beating my chest to scare off that which scares me, instead of kneeling at the feet of Jesus asking for help.

So, how does one find time to be alone with God, be with God with a spouse, work, and still be a functional part of community? Honestly, I’ve been at this a week and may actually be more confused than when I started, lol. But God is strong when we are weak, and He is faithful to draw us unto Himself. I don’t know how all of this works together, but I am confident that God has more control over my time than I do, and that He will guide my decisions and actions toward further sanctification. For His glory and our good.

Soli Deo Gloria

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