(Editor’s Note: Following my sermon on the First Commandment I had a conversation with one of our congregants. Because I thought this person shared an important insight I requested a follow-up email expressing those thoughts. I am publishing it here with only a few, minor edits. This person was responding to my teaching that the first commandment essentially requires us to push aside things that help us cope with life’s difficulties if those things take precedence over seeking God’s help. I also noted that it is often difficult to seek God. I hope you all can see, with me, the helpful truth in this response. –geno)
Our reluctance in coming to the Lord, and turning to other things instead…is because the “other things” allow us to escape….escape from pain first and foremost.
Indulging in food, alcohol, working out, porn, TV or just general business…numbs the pain. I mean this is no revelation…but relationship costs me time, and heartache. It costs me that with Jesus, too.
When we quiet ourselves before Him he unveils the secret places in our heart. These things will begin to “bubble up” to the surface, and healing can “begin”. But it is the beginning of healing.
…sin will be brought up, and pain will be brought up…sins done to us that have laid dormant for a long time and so on.
Having walked through the “Shadow” a few times I have learned it is best to face grief straight on…to run towards it. BUT recent events really made me want to escape.
Praise God for Downton Abby, ice cream, chocolate syrup and the occasional BEER! As I binged on that mini series…I felt the Lord say…”It’s okay….I know you need this right now…the mind needs the escape.”
Sometimes we fear we may be overwhelmed with the pain we may experience, that somehow we will drown in it, so we never allow it to the surface. It is much easier to go grab ice cream and a bottle of choc. syrup! :)
But eventually…I had to go and face the loss, anger, the images and death–before the Lord, and “with” the Lord. I had to wrestle through my thoughts about it and about God in it. I had to wrestle with the “WHY”, and that’s exhausting. But if you want true relationship it’s hard work and exhausting…but the fruit is worth it, more than worth it.
Anyway, in a nutshell, I think we go to other things because coming to God is painful sometimes…and we, to quote another song writer “Haven’t got time for the pain.” :) We have to sit in pain sometimes and wrestle with it, we don’t want to do that. But when we don’t do that we also miss out on the “Peace”…the peace that passes all understanding.
It is priceless how everything around us is falling absolutely apart, but He…in His mystery, wonder and gentleness…brings peace…because we have chosen to draw near. It isn’t the absence of the difficulty…but we know that He is with us…even in the dark.
Grace and peace,