Have you ever been in church singing a song like, “I give myself away” or “All I want is You” or “I love You with all of my heart,” and felt a tinge of conviction? Have you at times felt like, those lyrics weren’t true for you?
If not, I may be the only one who feels like this sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong. I want to sing these words and mean what I’m singing. But many times I feel like I’m lying to God when I sing songs of complete surrender or desire. So instead, I sing in my heart, “I (want to) give myself away. (I want to be in a place where) All I want is you. I (really do want to) love you with all of my heart..."
Why do I end up adding my own internal parentheses? Most times, I find myself doing this whenever I'm in a season of habitual disobedience and unconfessed sin. These seasons usually occur when I’m unintentionally or sometimes even deliberately fighting against the path that God is telling me to pursue—and in effect, fighting with God, growing hardened in heart, and slowly running away from any awareness of His Presence. (To clarify, if you are a believer, God’s presence never leaves you, because you are sealed with the Holy Spirit. But there’s a difference between having the Spirit and actively obeying and giving Lordship to the Spirit. When we disobey Him, we literally grieve His presence inside of us.)
And so I sing...knowing that my actions speak much more loudly than my words.
During these seasons of disobedience, I usually find myself listening to a sermon and thinking, “Yeah, I need to go ahead and give up ___, and I know I need to go ahead and start __.”
Almost 2 years ago, Evan (my husband) shared with me that he could see me blogging in the future. At the time, I scoffed at the idea and inwardly rolled my eyes. I figured that his statement was a result of him not listening to all that I had been sharing with him on the Lord's purposes for my life (which at the time, DID NOT INCLUDE BLOGGING). But then later he repeated it again. And then again. And finally, when Evan and I were getting off our elevator one evening, Evan started venturing into another spiel about seeing me blogging. It was at that moment that I heard the Lord tell me to “LISTEN.”
After that evening, Evan didn’t have to remind me anymore about blogging. The Holy Spirit kept telling me. I fought the Lord, less out of sheer rebellion and more out of pure laziness, for some time. But delayed obedience = disobedience. Although I started drafting potential posts for almost a year, I didn’t have any concrete plans on actually starting a blog and publishing the posts. So every sermon, every song, every near death-like-experience (turbulence on a plane) would inadvertently remind me that I hadn’t entirely given myself over to God.
My point is this.
You don’t need to know 10 ways to get closer to God.
More than likely, you already know how. The answer is simple. Be obedient. Openly confess whenever you have been withholding. Prioritize God by studying His Word and talking to Him, listening to Him, and being aware of His presence daily.
Sure, you may have heard this all before. In fact, this blog post may have caught your eye because perhaps you wanted to find a different and easier way to draw near to God.
I can relate to that feeling. How? Because a couple weeks ago, I was tempted to google search, “10 ways to get closer to God.” Actually, this was more than a temptation, because I was in the process of looking it up. But while picking up my phone, I sighed, knowing that I already knew how to draw closer to God.
Honestly, I was just hoping to read somewhere that I could get closer to Him by, for example, spinning in circles 7 times or speaking in tongues for 7 minutes. I wanted to read words empathizing with my busy schedule and encouraging me to catch a Word whenever I could. I wanted to read that God was in my heart and that was all that mattered. I wanted to read that I was human and couldn’t possibly obey God all the time, so it was ok to settle for some sin in my life/not lay down everything to Him.
But that’s not what I’m going to tell you.
A couple of months ago, I sat, tired of trying to rock baby boy to sleep. No amount of breastmilk, walking, swaying, or singing was working. I leaned back in the rocking chair, closed my eyes, and just wished for the vision of what I had thought motherhood would look like to come true. I wanted Evan Jr. to lay on my chest, nestled sweetly between my chin and my womb. I wanted to hold him for once without him resisting me with clenched fists and a squirming body, itching to get away. This was mostly my reality for the first 5-7 weeks of Evan Jr.’s life due to him having a very gassy digestive system.
Nonetheless, I took his discomfort personally every time he pressed his little hands aggressively against my chest in pain. Over time, I began to think that he didn't want me. For once, I just wanted him to feel protected in my arms and act as though he liked Mommy and no one else (this would come just a couple of weeks later). I wanted him to want me (I cannot stress that enough). And the moment that this thought resonated, the unbelievable happened.
As though an angel just tapped baby boy, Evan Jr. suddenly rested his head right below my chin. Up until this point, he had never done this. He would fall asleep while breastfeeding, or after numerous bounces when walking back and forth, or after trying 100 different positions whenever I sat down. But this...this effortless position felt right. This was the vision that I had imagined of motherhood.
He laid on my chest so peacefully. And as soon as I felt his deep breaths against my chest, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. The moment that I had dreamt of since he was born happened. I peered down and stroked his hair. For the first time up until that point, he had resigned to sleep without fighting me with every last ounce of energy of his body. I leaned back and smiled... before being interrupted by another thought—a thought that I knew was from above.
“This is what I long for, with you.”
He spoke it so clearly. I wasn’t even praying.
Tears, for another reason, began drawing up. Simultaneously, I inwardly smiled and said, “Come on Lord. Can’t I just enjoy this one moment without you laying that on me?” I had been fighting the Lord. Yes, I was a new mom with a newborn at the time, but I had kept fighting the Lord. I felt Him beckoning me to invite Him into my thoughts when changing Evan Jr.’s diapers. I felt Him inviting me to open up to Him whenever I felt overwhelmed. I felt Him whispering to me to worship Him when I felt down. To confess when I had engaged in wrongful thinking. To read His Word when I had some time alone. But instead, I wanted to numb myself with HGTV and Facebook.
It’s so simple, yet the most challenging thing that you’ll probably ever do. And so I’ll repeat it again.
You don’t need 10 ways to get closer to God.
Be obedient (Stop doing what you know you need to stop doing, and begin what you know you should be doing.). Openly confess whenever you aren’t (Be honest. Don’t sugar coat it.). And prioritize God by studying His Word (No other way around it. No commentary, spiritual book, or sermon will suffice) and be aware of His Presence daily (Talk to and LISTEN to Him, even now!).
It’s so simple, yet the most challenging thing that you’ll probably ever do.
So start now :)
I enjoyed listening to this song while writing this. Maybe it will bless you: Beautiful Jesus by Melissa Helser.