It is Sunday and I am rushing to church trying to avoid one or two potholes made in the road by the latest rainstorms. Once again I am late and get to sit down in the last couple of seconds just before the service starts. Out of breath I had a fleeting moment of guilt come over me – surely this is not what God had in mind when we are meeting Him?
On reflection later in the day I have to admit that this rushing to church is not a once off, but rather a continuous case of running from one place to another in the last couple of weeks. I feel stretched trying to keep the whole family’s calendars in sync and my irritation levels knows no bounds. It is only April and it feels as if everyone just have to stay out of my way or I may snap and say something that I am going to be very sorry for later.
The thing is, just as I have had potholes in the road this morning so also I have found a couple of my own potholes in my spiritual journey which makes God feel very distant of late. The only difference is that driving in my car I was on the look-out for it and swerved out in time, but in my spiritual life I may have become a bit lax in my alertness and defense and have now got myself stuck in a couple of them. With this busyness and things going on in my and my family’s life I have been cutting back on my quiet time, spending only the bare minimum in God’s Word, prayer and worship and now I am paying for it. I have forgotten God’s promises to smooth over the rough roads, and prioritizing my time according to God’s goals and not my own so that I can be on the look-out for anything that can affect my faith.
How is it possible that one can feel so close to God and positive about the journey we follow only to realise in the next moment that some wheels have unexpectedly come off? I think the answer lies in Ephesians 6:13-18 where Paul speaks about staying alert and putting on the armour of God:
Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication (NRSV)
Our Christian journey is life-long and we have to persevere continuously in our Spiritual disciplines. Paul warns that we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against the presence of darkness and if we do not armour ourselves with God’s Word, prayer and faith against it, we will run the risk of falling flat on our faces.
We cannot always avoid hitting the bumps in the road, but if we go over it at a slower pace and have the right defences it can do very little damage in the long run.
For me, I am going to have to very quickly get my priorities right again becoming more alert for the things around me that want to take me away from God and a more Christ-like character, and also making my armour as strong as possible to have the necessary defence when needed.