“I can resist everything except temptation.”~~Oscar Wilde (BrainyQuotes)
Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is irenic, “tending to promote peace or reconciliation; peaceful or conciliatory.” We need more irenic people this holiday season.
Today is Forefathers’ Day. This day commemorates “the pilgrims who sailed the Atlantic Ocean aboard the Mayflower, in 1620.”
I had a sort of weird day, yesterday. I’m not sure what was going on, and I wasn’t in a really bad mood, but things were annoying me more than usual. Work was okay, and, over all, the day was pretty uneventful. I think it’s just the fact that in only two more days, we will be off for seven days. I’m sure that has a lot to do with it.
It got a lot better last night, when Christi made Kahlua fudge! Yum!! I got to taste what was left in the bottom of the pot when we poured it into the dish, so it could set in the refrigerator. Wow!! I told Christi this may be the best batch ever! I may have said that last year, too.
(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)
As we approach the end of this book, Tim Keller asks the question, “Where are you?” He asks us to evaluate our current situation in regard to prayer. We are asked to imagine that our soul is a boat, with both oars and a sail. Four questions are then asked.
“Are you ‘sailing?'” If I’m “sailing,” I am living my Christian life with the wind at my back. God is real to my heart. I feel his love, frequently, and see prayers being answered. I see remarkable things when I read Scripture and sense that the Holy Spirit is speaking to me. I can even sense that people around me are influence by the presence of the Holy Spirit within me.
“Are you ‘rowing?'” If I’m “rowing,” I am finding prayer and Bible reading to be more of a chore/duty than a delight. There are many times that God feels distant. I don’t see many prayers being answered, and may even be struggling with doubts about God and myself. However, in spite of these spiritually dry feelings, I don’t give up. I don’t give in to the temptation to think that I know better than God about how my life should go. I keep reading and praying, attending worship, and reaching out to serve others.
“Are you ‘drifting?'” If I am drifting, I am experiencing all of the conditions of “rowing,” but instead of actually doing the work of rowing, I am letting myself drift along. I don’t feel like approaching God, much less obeying him, so I don’t pray or read. I give in to self-centeredness, perhaps even allowing a “pity party” to set in. I drift into “self-indulgent behaviors.”
“Are you ‘sinking?'” If I am sinking, eventually, my soul-boat will drift away from the “shipping lanes” and “truly lose any forward motion in the Christian life.” Numbness of heart will set in and turn into hardness. The wrong kind of hardship or crisis in life could even lead to total abandonment of faith.
In this metaphor, there are some things that we are responsible for, such as Bible reading, prayer, and church involvement. But there are also things that are out of our control, such as life circumstances, and, sometimes, even emotional response. “If you pray, worship, and obey despite negative circumstances and feelings, you won’t be drifting, and when the winds come up again, you will move ahead swiftly.” However, if we do not apply the means of grace, the “rowing,” as it were, we will drift, and when the storms come, eventually sink.
Keller finishes this section with this: “In any case–pray no matter what. Praying is rowing, and sometimes it is like rowing in the dark–you won’t feel that you are making any progress at all. Yet you are, and when the winds rise again, and they surely will, you will sail again before them.”
As I read this, I have evaluated where I am. To be honest, I am somewhere between rowing and sailing. There are some times that I am sailing, and there are times when I feel spiritually dry. But, as is evidenced by this blog, I am continuing to “row,” doing the things that are necessary to keep my spiritual life afloat. I pray. I read the Bible, at least some. I attend worship, and, when called upon, I serve. I am confident that those winds will rise up again, and, someday, I will be sailing, enjoying sweet intimacy with my Father in heaven.
Father, I pray for the winds. But in the meantime, I also pray that your Spirit will keep me inspired to keep rowing, that I might not drift or sink. Your grace is most certainly enough.
Come, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.