Thursday, January 03, 2008


More cousins at Christmas!
Through years of working with students, and looking into my own life, I have learned that the priorities we set in our lives are the ones we want to pursue.
Spending time alone with the Lord is one that all of us need to make a regular occurrence. I think most of us would agree on this. However, whether a student or adult, this is one that routinely gets cast aside as busy lives are consumed with so many other things.
In my own life I have experienced the extremely dry periods where it seems that I will never learn another thing. I have also been blessed with the rich and fertile moments where I am overwhelmed with the things the Lord reveals.
We all want the latter. Most of us struggle through the former and find it hard to keep pushing through. Many abandon studying the Word during these dry seasons. While it is understandable, it is not the right choice.
For many years my expectations were that if I was in church on Sunday and then again mid-week, I would grow. When I failed to experience significant growth I became frustrated. During this period, I would seldom open my Bible. The less I studied, the more worldly I became. During this time, I was still in church when the doors were open.
My frustration compounded.
There was a significant disconnect between who Christ is, and who I knew He wanted me to be. Attending services was not producing fruit. I was unsure how to find my way to becoming the man God tells me in His Word I should be.
During this time, I also watched my precious wife remain steadfast in her study of God's Word. Her Bible bore the scars of frequent use. It was not uncommon to walk past her and see her in a prayer posture. My frustration grew over my lack of commitment, depth and drive to do likewise.
I'm sure I've said it before, but it was also during this time that the worldly reflection exposed in my own life began to be emulated by my young children. What I saw made me sick.
I began to cry out to God in earnest. When I was finally ready to make Him a priority in my life, He responded without hesitation! I had to TRULY follow Him in steps of obedience. As I did, He began to do an incredible work in my own life.
He caused a depth of hunger and thirst that in my life to that point, I had never experienced. My appetite became voracious for the things of God. I could not get enough of Jesus. I sought Him in my Bible, I sought Him in worship, I sought Him in prayer, I sought Him in fellowship, and I sought Him in the study of other Christian literature.
The changes that followed swiftly on the heels of obedience were largely unnoticeable to me as my focus was no longer on self. What I did begin to notice was that my children had their Bibles out. When they had to write papers for school, the way they portrayed their daddy was different. It was humbling to see their truthfulness expose the good and the not so good...they recognized change. It mattered to them and they reflected it in their own lives.
It's not a new metaphor, but when an ember is pulled from the fire, it quickly dies out...goes cold. When we withdraw from the Word, from prayer, from fellowship and worship, our lives once again resemble the prince of the earth rather than the King of Kings.
This is not because we want it to. This is because we have strayed, ever so gradually from the source of the fire!
When I see people whose lives once reflected an amber glow, but have turned less vibrant, drained of joy, I do not have to wonder what happened. Especially, when that life glares back at me through colder, darker eyes from a mirror obscured by foggy steam as I shave.
We each experience seasons of growth and seasons of decline. Largely, this is due to choices we make about our priorities.
When your own study and life in Christ become dry and parched, it is not because you have been abandoned in the desert to look for an elusive oasis. It is often because He is trying to lead you through a difficult, oppressive, desperate journey to prepare you for a season of abundance where flourishing, means reflecting Him, not amassing possessions.
When your priorities are where they need to be, others will see Christ in you, even in the desert.


At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Brent. Very well put.


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