One of the things my church teaches is to take issues or ideas or events back to the Lord and ask this question - "What is that to me, Lord?" Ever since I read The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs, I have been asking this question. Tonight, He answered, and His answer humbled me.
I still think it is one of the saddest books I have ever read. This man spent hours and hours of his life studying the Scriptures - days and weeks and months on end. Yet he never let it change his heart. He may feel like he's a "good man," maybe even a "better man" for having taken on this challenge - but he never let the truth of the Word of God change his life. In short, he read the law, but never saw the relationship.
Here's what God showed me: yes, that is sad for him. But I do this as well. I read the Word of God and try to do what it says - but on my own. I leave Him out of it. And good grief - I should know better! Lately I have felt myself get frustrated in some of the ministries I am involved in - namely, being the head of the missions team of my church. We have a consistent flow of requests for assistance come in, and each request has its own issues - no transportation, no phone to call them back on, lack of cooperation on their part, etc. Lately, without realizing it, I have stopped seeing the people and have just seen the names on a page. "Oh, look, it's so-and-so. Probably won't see them at their appointment again." I have forgotten a key part of this ministry - that God loves these people fiercly, and He expects me (with apologies to William P. Young) to see them and He sees them - with His love. When I don't, I'm no better off than Jacobs, just doing what it says in the words without living out the heart behind them.
This affects all areas of life - family, ministry, time with God, even our physical bodies. I have been more fatigued lately - because I have been trying to "do the thing" on my own strength. I've been trying to get by instead of living life to the fullest as Christ intended when He came here and shed His blood for me. I've been living by the words and doing the motions - but I have "forgotten my first love."
So, there's my confession, and I am grateful I have a God that leads me to repentance before I wander too far off the path! As I shake my head in sadness for Mr. Jacobs, I must also look inwardly and see where in my own life I have just walked the words and not let them penetrate my heart.
So, now, the question for you is - what is this to you? Where have you just "done the thing" without having the heart behind it? Where have you tried to do it on your own, leaving relationship behind?