John A. Braun
Spiritual life can seem like a wasteland sometimes. We might imagine that we’re standing on the edge of a vast landscape of sand dunes with no clear path to follow. The longer we stand there and ponder what to do, the worse it gets.
I’ve been there, and I find company there. The people who come are weary and tired. Some have labored long and hard at life’s challenges and living as Christians. They’re burned out. I even find Elijah there, who wondered if he was the only one who was still faithful (1 Kings chapter 19), and Jeremiah with his Lamentations.
We all come here from time to time. A parent confronted with challenges posed by a child’s dangerous choices becomes weary and drained by the effort to do what is right. A spouse sits helpless as life and vitality creep away from a beloved partner. We all have our own journeys and stories of how we came to the edge of the wasteland.
Exhausted by our struggles, we seem to have lost our enthusiasm for Christ and our energy for the next challenge. We anguish over what we sense is a drop in our intensity and a sign of weakness. The dents in our armor are difficult to repair sometimes. After the struggle,
it seems like we will never be able to attain the same level of commitment, strength, and vitality.
But let’s be careful as we join the company of those other weary believers. What we are experiencing is not so much a wasteland but a sign of spiritual maturity. We’ve come through troubles. The Lord has given us all we need to come to a place for rest. We have endured. The maturity comes in recognizing that the Lord has trained and molded us in the exertion—even given us a time to reflect.
We should remember that all our tri-als and challenges do not leave us the same as we were before. Even if we don’t realize it, we have grown to a new level of spiritual maturity, that is, if we have turned to the Lord’s Word for strength, comfort, and encouragement. He has led us to deeper prayer as well. Even if God seems to be silent after our repeated cries for help, he sharpens our vision of his will and leads us away from our will. Wait. Trust. Hope. That’s part of spiritual maturity.
At those moments of spiritual weariness, we may be tempted to do something to breathe vitality back into our spiritual life. I know some have sought a solution in another church or even another church body, hoping to recapture some of what appears lost. Temptations await us in these places. But our spiritual health does not depend as much on our efforts as it depends on God’s power in the gospel. Don’t be too quick to find a path away from his grace and love.
Instead, take the time to rest, reflect, and return to God’s rich promises. The path ahead becomes clear as we listen to God’s instruction in his Word. The gospel assures us of God’s love in Christ and promises he will never desert us. Perhaps his new role for us is to stand quietly as one of God’s guideposts for others to follow. Mature and sure of his love, we point to Scripture and the cross it reveals. For those troubled by their journey, our spiritual depth assures them in their own spiritual weariness.
There’s more to do, and God may open new pathways for any of us to follow. In the meantime, wait for the Lord and sink yourselves into his promises.
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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 104, Number 2
Issue: February 2017
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