Friday, July 10, 2015

Raft of Routine

                An absence, an emptiness that runs deep into the core of my stomach, an ache to be filled and refreshed, renewed and awakened from this endless sleep I can’t seem to shake. Filled with daily routine, responsibility, desires and dreams, yet nothing I find seems to satisfy me, nothing fills me up or wakes me up. I am left with this sleepiness, this tired and almost depressed feeling that the Lord has forgotten me.  
                Has the Lord forgotten me? I search for Him but I do not find Him. I pray but my words fall to the ground like a balloon without air. They are empty, I am empty. There is no fire; it has grown cold in my soul. I shiver under the weight of daily life. I have grown cold, I have become empty. My heart cries out for You, O Lord, with the Psalmist I cry out, “How long O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1 ESV)
             
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   These two paragraphs are the cry of my heart this morning. I woke up with this desire to be renewed, because lately, I will be honest, it feels like I have grown cold. I pray but my words just seem like words. I read but my time with Him seems distracted, alone, like I am present but He is not. I find myself crying from the depths of my soul the same words the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 13. I tell myself that my God would never leave me, He would never forsake me. He is here with me. It is not He who has forgotten, it is I who have forgotten. He knows me, He sees me, and He is still God of me. But I do believe that there are times in our lives, times like these, when God does not answer us. He becomes silent during these times of our lives. It is like He is ignoring our cries to Him. Why? Why does God keep silent? Maybe it is not Him who is silent, but maybe it is me who is not listening?
                When we do not see or feel God’s active love and blessing in our lives we can sometimes misunderstand it for His displeasure in us or as the Psalmist writes, we think it means He has forgotten us. But in these times when God is inactive, or when we cannot see or feel His active role in our lives, instead of thinking the worst about ourselves, we should instead look for the Best of Him in us. Lately my days and times have been filled with everything but God. I try to spend my daily time limit in the morning with the Lord, through prayer, reading His word, listening to worship songs as I run on my treadmill, etc. I try to fill my day with the things I know I need to do first. But my mornings can easily be surrounded by the business, the pet care jobs needing filled, the work that needs to be done, payroll, scheduling, etc. Day after day I find myself filling up my morning time being interrupted with other things instead of God things. I find myself falling into a routine, and eventually I find myself asleep.
                “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” Psalm 13:3 ESV
                There is a sleep that we are all capable of falling into. It is a sleep that just gradually comes upon you and overtakes you before you even realize it. When I was a kid one of my favorite things to do was to float on a raft down the river, or on the lake. I would climb up on my raft, lie down, and just watch the clouds move above me. One after another floating by, until eventually I would wake up and find myself farther from shore than I had intended to go. Without even knowing it I had fallen asleep. Our Psalmist is feeling that sleep just like I am. I too feel like I have floated upon my raft of routine and have allowed my spiritual life to slumber and float farther than I thought I would. But what does the Psalmist say? He cries out that the Lord would light up his eyes. We must wake up! We must pay attention to where we have floated to on our rafts of routine and come back to the One who holds our anchor.
                Make me wake up, Lord. Revive me, refresh me, and refocus me. It is easy to slip away, easy to let one thing become more important than the next. Day after day you find yourself drifting off into a quiet slumber of routine and misplaced priorities. It is in these moments when I find myself yearning and longing for the passion of His word again. We must be careful with routine. It will sneak up on you just like sleep does. It will kill any hope, desire or passion for the Lord that you have had. You will find yourself going through the motions, dreaming rather than living in reality. You will be running in your sleep but your body will be still, slumbering upon the bed of routine, not experiencing the benefits of the exercise.
                How do I escape this conundrum of daily routine? There are things that must be done,
responsibilities that I must take care of. I do have a business to build, a company to run. But how then do I stay focused on Him and not let my eyes fall into the sleep that will kill my soul? I trust in His steadfast love.
                “But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13:5-6 ESV
                I trust, and I have confidence that no matter what time of day it is that I finally get a chance to be with Him, He is already there, just as excited to be with me as I am with Him. I am secure in knowing that He has never forgotten me, and He will never leave me. I make time for Him, just as He makes time for me. It might not be when I thought it would be or should be, but God is not limited by our daily schedules. I limit Him because I limit me.
                These moments of emptiness, these moments of deep hunger for Him are my wake up call, my alarm clock. They are a reminder to my soul of how great His love is for me. It is in our hunger and thirst for Him that our understanding of Him is broadened. When we are empty and alone we will seek Him the most, if we trust in Him. I will trust and have faith that His love is greater than all the emptiness I am feeling inside. I will trust and have faith that no matter what I am feeling, God is greater. I will trust that He will wake me up and that no matter what happens that day or what does not happen that day that He is still God of me. Amen.
                Secondly, I must turn my heart to rejoicing (vs. 6). One of my faults is that I tend to focus on my lack rather than on my abundance. I find myself feeling empty so therefore I must have done something to be empty. I focus on my need instead of on the One who can fill it. I focus on my emptiness instead of His fullness. I am empty but He is my God who encompasses me, restores me, and revives me to life again. It is in these moments of tired routines that I hear Him calling to me, “Seek Me and you will find Me, when you seek Me with your whole heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
                My heart is awakened, and I turn to seek the One who restores me, who brought me from the pit of despair and filled me with riches that can never be taken from me. He restores me with eternal life, salvation through Jesus Christ my Lord. My feelings may tell me that I am empty and alone, but faith stands up and reminds me of His steadfast love. His constant faithfulness, His continued hand upon my every waking moment, it is there. I may not see it, I may not feel it, but it doesn’t mean it is not there. Sleep distorts our reality, and what we think is missing is really truly there. My feelings have overtaken my faith and caused me to slumber and float away. But His steadfast love wakes me up and causes me to seek His face all over again.
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                Sometimes I think we have to wake up from our routines and just break out of the normal. Go away, take some time to just step outside and take in His glory. Instead of doing the normal routine you always do, shake things up. One way to wake someone up is to shake them. Shake up your day; don’t get bound up in the sleeping death of routine. Sometimes we just need to breathe in the glorious splendor of His grace, His steadfast, ever present love for us somewhere other than our kitchen table. Sometimes we just need to unplug, put everything else aside and just be with Him. Even if we just find ourselves sitting in the parking lot reading our Bibles, or taking a walk in the park, we sometimes just need to shake things up. Whatever we need to do, we must remember that it does not matter what time of day we spend with Him, it only matters that we spend it. Don’t let your daily routine kill your passion for His presence.

                We can become so lost in our lazy rivers of routine and the droll beating of responsibilities that we don’t even realize we have drifted off to sleep. Wake up and look around you. Let His love bring you back from that emptiness and draw you to seek Him once more. Our enemies shall not prevail. Routine and the hypnosis it puts upon our souls shall not take hold of us. We shall trust in Him. His steadfast love shall ignite our hearts to rejoice in the salvation of Jesus Christ and we shall be shaken up once again. Our faith shall overtake our feelings and bring us back to that place where He says we will find Him, if we will just wake up. Amen.