The weekend was finally here! I could finish that novel I’d started, perhaps watch two or three episodes of that TV serial I so enjoyed, and surf through Instagram, guilt-free.

I set out to put this plan into action. Yet, I found no joy in any of these leisure activities. Don’t get me wrong. I wanted to enjoy every minute of them. Yet strangely enough, I felt only sadness and guilt.

I kept feeling like I ought to be spending time with God.

But I knew that would require time and discipline — both of which I was unwilling to give. I would need to quiet my heart and mind and stay still until I heard Him speak. Moreover, since He is the God of the universe, His timing and mine wouldn’t exactly match. There would be waiting involved. And I was just not ready to lose my weekend to that!

It gets worse. My guilt came not from the fact that I was turning down time with my Maker but rather from the thought that this would be a “blemish on my record of spiritual consistency.”[1] It’s like I had a mental checklist of spiritual activities that needed to be done daily — ensuring I met this target implied I was a “Good Christian.”

Which is ridiculous when stated so plainly — but the human heart is deceptive!

This quote by Keith Green the singer gave me an unpleasant shock:

If your heart takes more pleasure in reading novels, or watching TV, or going to the movies, or talking to friends, than in just sitting alone with God and embracing Him, sharing His cares and His burdens, weeping and rejoicing with Him, then how are you going to handle forever and ever in His presence? You’d be bored to tears in heaven if you’re not ecstatic about God now.

As I dwelt on that notion for a while, I wondered how I’d arrived at this place in my life.

Looking back, I noticed that things had begun to gradually weaken when life began to look rosy. We weren’t facing a crisis, my family was safe, things were going well, and life was good. I’d begun to sink into a state of self-dependence because I didn’t desperately need God for anything. That was my problem — I didn’t need God because I had an abundance of both material and spiritual blessings.

These weren’t bad things in themselves! Yet this season of plenty was more deadly than a season of lack. I had never seen the abundance of good things as a trial. But in actuality, it was war — it was filling me with self-confidence, pushing me to find my joy in the things of this world, to find my strength in myself, to not treasure the Giver but rather the treasures themselves.

The thing is, these “treasures” are imposters — the only real treasure always is Yahweh Himself!

Abundance and need are both trials, but I am realizing that the trial of abundance is spiritually harder to face faithfully. Jon Bloom puts it like this:

Abundance easily obscures our vulnerabilities, giving us a misleading sense of security, and often a false sense of independence. The danger lies precisely in the fact that it doesn’t feel dangerous. We tend to like the feeling it gives. Being people whose sinful, self-centred pride is far more pervasive and powerful than we are usually aware of, we love the sense of autonomy and indulgent opportunities wealth affords. We love not feeling needy. We consider that normal. [2]

Yet, this is not normal. Life will never be normal on this side of eternity. Until I truly understand that, I will always tend to slip into a state of luke-warmness.

So I’m learning to deal with abundance as I would suffering — realising this is all a mirage, I cling to the Lord, seeking Him, regardless of how I feel. I’m learning to be wary of the pitfalls and beware complacency and independence, understanding that I am always needy — which is a good place to be.

I do the works He has prepared for me to accomplish in the midst of my weaknesses, inadequacies, and failures because God is glorified when I come to the end of myself.

 

[1] Jimmy Needham, ‘The Prosperity Gospel in our Closet’, www.desiringgod.org

[2] Jon Bloom, ‘At Least as Dangerous as Porn’, www.desiringgod.org

Photo by Thomas Pierre on Unsplash

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ruthdavidarpaul@gmail.com'
Ruth Davidar Paul is a freelance copy editor and content developer, who loves rummaging through used books stores and collecting old books. Apart from filling her home with overflowing bookcases, she enjoys deep conversations, jigsaw puzzles and daydreaming. She currently lives in Chennai with her husband Abhishek and their daughter Abigail.
ruthdavidarpaul@gmail.com'

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