I have not been being very content lately.
Content in my relationship with God, with myself, with my family, with my circumstances, with my life.
I don't know why. All I know is that this is a very trying time for my faith. A time of testing, refining.
And this is uncomfortable. So uncomfortable, in fact, that I feel like I'm doing something wrong. That God has left me. That I'm alone.
And so I find myself doing things that attempt to win back the favor of God.
Whether you identify with any of my feelings now doesn't matter; someday you will.
I don't mean to call doom down on you, but there is a time for everything. There will be mountain tops and valleys.
My mom told me that and I didn't believe her. I wish I had, because then maybe I could have spiritually prepared myself. If not that, at least I would have shown maturity in believing someone who's walked this Faith longer than I have.
Winning back the feeling of God's presence is tiring, heart-breaking, and pointless.
You can't do it.
It's truly like taking on an impossible task.
Not only that, but listen to what God says about it:
“What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?”
says the Lord.
“I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of fattened cattle.
I get no pleasure from the blood
of bulls and lambs and goats.
When you come to worship me,
who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?
Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts;
the incense of your offerings disgusts me!
As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath
and your special days for fasting—
they are all sinful and false.
I want no more of your pious meetings.
I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals.
They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!
When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look.
Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen,
for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.
For me, this passage offers a lot of relief. I know now that God doesn't even want my winning-Him-back attitude, motivation, or actions.
So what does he want?
"Wash yourselves and be clean!
Get your sins out of my sight.
Give up your evil ways.
Learn to do good.
Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans.
Fight for the rights of widows.
“Come now, let’s settle this,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me,
you will have plenty to eat.
But if you turn away and refuse to listen,
you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies.
I, the LORD, have spoken!"
Don't you feel like weeping when you read that??
Holy, righteous God doesn't want our sacrifices! He hates them! He burns with anger when you try that meaninglessness!
Sit in humility for a minute and think about that.
Now look up to Jesus. He says, "I don't hate you. I hate your sin. I hate the awful things it makes you, my beautiful child, do, think, and say."
See that because He hates your sin so much and because He loves you so much,
He's gonna make your sins white like pure snow,
where they were once like scarlet.
He's gonna make your sins white as sheep's wool,
where before they stained like crimson.
His righteousness and love go hand-in-hand here, because they fuel the same action, getting the same result.
A cleansed child. A whole heart.
Stop trying to win Him back, Shelby. Just get rid of your sin. Get it out of his sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good, simply because God is good. Seek Justice. Help the oppressed, defend the cause for orphans, and fight for the rights of widows NOT BECAUSE IT'S COOL OR BECAUSE IT COMES EASILY TO YOU, but because THOSE ARE GOD'S CHILDREN, JUST LIKE YOU.
I do feel like weeping at this blessed assurance.
He doesn't hate me. He hasn't left me.
He hates my sin. He wants to take sin's place in my life.
Happy Sabbath, everyone.