Lately I've been going through a spiritual bootcamp of sorts. It's hard to explain; suffice it to say that I have been challenged on a new level. I have learned things about myself and about God that have left me reeling.
And it's been utterly . . . I don't even know the word to use. Frightening? Shocking? Eye-opening? Words fail me this time.
This challenge has come from a couple of sources. Someone on the Weight Watchers website mentioned a free online Bible study for people trying to lose weight. It's called Setting Captives Free, and I was skeptical, but thought it would be worth a try. The basic premise is that most of us try to use food to fill our souls, when Jesus is the only one who can do that. The lessons focus on teaching us how to feast on the Lord and not medicate with food. Deep down I knew that, but putting it into practice is not a simple matter.
The other piece is the CD set Mom gave me - the first sermons in a series about Revelation. I love their church - it is alive in a way that mine is not. When I visit, I always leave feeling uplifted and convicted. As I listened to a talk about the church in Ephesus (they are the ones that Jesus said had wonderful deeds, but had lost their love for Him), Greg asked if we had lost our first love - could we remember what it was like when we first became Christians? The fire, the insatiable desire for more of God's word, the longing for others to know him as we did?
And then it hit me, squarely in the chest, with all the force of a blast of dynamite.
I have never felt that fire.
Tears just poured down my face at the realization. After twenty years of calling myself a Christian, my heart did not show it. I hadn't lost my first love - I'd hardly ever had it to begin with! Yes, I have worked for the Lord - I've done everything from mission trips to teaching classes to writing VBS skits - but my heart was never in the place it should have been. I could sing "Light the Fire" all day long and never really, truly, deep-down-in-my-gut mean it.
Suddenly I understood wholly the concept of feasting on Jesus, and why I was grasping the idea but not the execution. It was almost too much to think about - I just sat there, dazed and in awe.
Earlier in the day, as I was working on the day's lesson for SCF, it began with a note that when we stop using food to medicate, it can actually be painful. As we lean more on God, the numbness that food provided leaves us vulnerable to past hurts. It dawned on me that Satan might also use this time to attack, before we become so strong that a spiritual battle is more than he can win.
You see, lately I have been unable to sleep at night. I lay in bed, and my mind is a whirling vortex of disconnected thoughts and memories. Sunday night I was exhausted, but it was 3am before I finally drifted off, only to have to awaken less than three hours later. I have tried praying. I've tried reciting scripture. I've tried reading my Bible - but none of it worked. I couldn't stay focused on any of it. The insane, incoherent, stray thoughts overpowered all my attempts to simply be still.
When I am tired, I am spiritually weak. It is hardest for me to resist overeating when fatigue clouds my head - I get drive-through because it is less work, and I munch on anything and everything, hoping for a little burst of energy. I walk around in an exhausted daze, and if the thought of God even flits across my mind, it's something of a minor miracle.
I think I am under spiritual attack.
I am drawing near to God in a way I never have before. Those nagging missing pieces of the spiritual puzzle have suddenly appeared on the table, and as I fit each one into place, the picture is becoming clearer - and yet I have this vague feeling that someone is trying to sneak out the newly-found pieces when I am concentrating on the right spot for the one I have in my hand.
It sounds silly to say this out loud, but I think Satan is keeping me awake at night to keep me tired, because he knows that is when I will be the most vulnerable. I can only take that to mean that he must think I am becoming a threat - and that, I suppose, is a good thing.
If you are not a beliver in God, you probably have written me off as crazy at this point. But if you are - then would you say a prayer for me? This journey is a strange and confusing one, and I need strength to make my way to wherever it is God is trying to lead me.