The light of evening holds an elusive quality. Sometimes? No, all of the time. It runs away like a cheeky child hiding in the bushes but then, when it's good and ready, comes bolting back out with a command that you be ready to play once again.
One might be tempted to say that spiritual fervor is this way too. It seems all too ardent one moment then still and dead the next.
So what do you and I do when our fervor seems to have lost its lustre? For many years, I thought the answer was to just try harder. To be honest, that is what I heard from respected Christian leaders.
If you aren't feeling God's presence then you need to dig in to the Word and prayer more. Better yet, work on your bible memorization, or perhaps what you really need is to serve! Have you considered 'Children's Ministry', they always need people!!
While each of these are good practices, I'm not sure that we can pin our spiritually darkened periods to how many good spiritual disciplines we have under our pious belts.
Let me pitch and idea out there for you to consider and you let me know if it rings true. I think our fervor is dependent more on how intimate we are with the object of our fervor. Think for a moment about someone with whom you have a relationship. I mean a close relationship. Do you have that person in your mind? Ok, what is it that causes you to feel fulfilled in that relationship?
Is it that you've memorized facts about the person? Is it that you read things about that person? Is it that you have one way conversations with that person where you do all the talking and they simply listen? Is it that you serve other people on that person's behalf so they will notice your kind heart?
Or is it that you spend time with that person, so much time that you can finish each other's thoughts? Is it that you can look at your special someone and know how they are feeling and know exactly how to respond to them as a result? Is it when you do things, even normal everyday things, together? Is it when you serve other people together? Is it when you know them so well that you understand their motivations for whatever they do and even when you don't like what they do, you still like who they are because you get each other's hearts?
That is how we think of people that we care about, but is it how we think about relationship with God? We may be able to recite His characteristics, but have we experienced those characteristics in such a way that we trust His heart? The Word tells us about God's character, but it is time spent with Him, knowing His character personally that allows us to love Him. It is when we are in such intimacy that we have listened to Him as He shares His emotions with us that we can begin to say we KNOW HIM.
This is why David wrote the way he did in the Psalms. He poured out his heart, his anguish, his worry, his confusion, but always, he came back to words of praise and trust, not because it was so much information that he'd taken in, but because Jehovah God and David had walked together and talked together and lived together in intimacy. This was not some theoretical intimacy, this was real! In Psalm 139, David trusted His God to carefully search the innermost workings of his heart for what might be ugly and sinful. We will never do that with someone that we don't know intimately, that we don't trust completely!
We've all heard sermons on how to get intimate with our Father. Usually, they include recommendations for spiritual disciplines in one form or another. These are important parts of the Christian life, but they are not a substitute for spending time with the actual person of Father God, the actual person of Jesus Christ or the actual person of the Holy Spirit.
The light, the True Light is elusive because we simply don't let Him into our Christian activity. We have moments when we do this, perhaps during worship, perhaps as we look out over a roaring sea or a storm wracked sky. But these are exceptions. We do not daily expect to exchange personal thoughts, heart desires, hurts and joys with the Lord Himself. We don't anticipate His voice speaking directly to us. And so the light wanes.
Today, expect Him to respond when you talk to Him, and then simply listen. What is He saying?