Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty. Yet you say, “How shall we return?” Malachi 3:7
The Israelites had no idea that they had lost their way. They feigned innocence. They were adamant that they hadn’t turned away from God. After all, they’d been going to the temple to all the services. How then, could they return? J. Vernon McGee says, “Ritualism was substituted for reality. Pageantry was substituted for power. The aesthetic was substituted for the spiritual, and form for feeling. They knew the vocabulary, but the power of God was gone. They were satisfied with a tasteless morality. They followed the rules and felt that everything was all right.” The truth is, they were far from God and they didn’t even know it.
The disintegration of a relationship happens slowly. I become so accustomed to having the other person around that laziness creeps in. I no longer put my best foot forward. Someone I love gets a grunt for a greeting. Years go by on automatic pilot and without careful assessment; I can believe everything is okay. It isn’t until one person wakes up and says, “I don’t feel close to you anymore”, that the spell is broken.
If it can happen in marriage and friendships, it can happen to my relationship with God. If I were quiet before God so that I could hear Him speak, would He say, “You don’t feel close to me anymore, do you?” I remember when His message was even more penetrating. It was 1994. “Christine, you’ve never felt close to me, have you?” I listened. I understood that my life had been all about rituals and pageantry. Because of that, I was profoundly lonely.
I set out to change my life and dare to believe that God was to be experienced, not just studied. I took a vacation from ‘all forms of doing’ in the church so that I could begin to find God on a real level. I had become such a performer that I couldn’t separate who I was from what I did. I sought God’s heart and asked Him to help me understand my own. Life has never been the same. My being vibrates with wonder at the sound of His voice. I wonder how I lasted so long without the joy of knowing Him. If there is anything overwhelming me today, I remember to hush my spirit, then look up.
I want to be fully alive to You in more ways than I am today. Amen