It’s always the same old story.
It begins with a cry of the heart, a turning back to God. Fervent resolutions, sorrow for past sins, repentance. A new way of life! No more neglecting the spiritual life, no more ignoring God. No more distractions. There is a conviction that things must not remain as they are, stagnant and shallow. It’s a desire to live awake and not asleep (Eph 5:14-16), “to live my life as it’s meant to be” (Mumford and Sons, The Cave) and stop making excuses.
Yes, no more excuses. New habits are introduced, and are undertaken with a renewed effort, with eagerness and sincerity.
And it works. You remember God’s promises – and He comes through! You allow Him to work in your life for once, and He does! You give faith a new try, and see the life you were missing out on.
Yes, it works.
For a while.
The first few days go great. You are convinced you’re back on the narrow way of sanctification. You’re in tune with God’s voice, and life means something.
Then, after a little while, your guard slips. You miss one or two things: times of prayer, acts of service… And your sincerity is still there, you cry out to God and ask Him to forgive you, to help you.
But the crest has passed, and the trough has now begun. With the first few little slips here and there, the fog begins to descend again. Little slips over time become real neglections. Evening prayer is missed. Morning prayer is now done with guilt and reluctance. And the soul, aching with dissatisfaction, still cries out – but in the confusion of the fog, you forget the true answer to its cries. That anesthetic fog of busyness, of distraction, puts out of your mind the great things God has done for you in the past, the mercy He’s shown, the strength He’s given. Dazed, confused, you reach out for what is nearest: entertainment, sleep, and above all distractions. That thirst grows and grows, and you end up spending hours on youtube and facebook, desperate to find that one thing that will leave your heart full, that one story, hidden somewhere, that truly satisfies.
But after some time in that aching darkness (and who can say how long), you find yourself alone in a place of silence. And suddenly, you are once again faced with reality. In a moment of grace, you realize – “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough to spare, but here I perish with hunger!” (Lk 15:17) You remember, even if briefly, your true purpose. You catch the glimmer of real beauty, catch sight of the land of true adventure. Though now mired in guilt, though ashamed and reluctant, you make the first little step. Though uncomfortable with humility, you get down on your knees again.
“But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (Lk 15:20)
It begins again with a cry of the heart. With that thirst, and with newly cleared vision. Once again, you allow your Father to awaken you to New Life. The fog lifts, if only for a moment, to reveal the light and glory and beauty of a life lived in the glow of the Resurrection. And, shaking your head at your earlier foolishness, you remember.
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