So this weekend was one where I spent a lot of time studying which is a bit foreign to me (prayers are always welcomed). I turned on some music, and despite an inclination to go secular, I followed the advice of leaders in our church and tuned in a Christian station. I may not have *needed* it as my mind was telling me, it certainly inspired me and kept me from the negativity which inevitably can come up for me when staring down a big ‘ole plate of stuff. The song *Your Grace is Enough* by Matt Maher came on, and one particular line stood out above the rest.
*You wrestle with the sinners heart*
At my core is a heart that has been, and to some degree will always be that of a sinner (though lesser so today by the grace of God). I will always have those things that can get in the way of my relationship with Christ, as well as others around me. It happens when things are bad, but also when things are good. I call it *the itch*. A feeling that starts small and almost unnoticed, our middle-circle behaviors. Often we feel this restlessness even though life isn’t too bad. Things are good, but we just can’t shake the feeling that something is missing or needs to be fixed. Sometimes our circumstances aren’t great, we catastrophize and we don’t know exactly why we can’t find peace so we begin to stray.
Isaiah 53: 6 (The Message)
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
on him, on him.
Sometimes that itch, becomes a scratch. Something small grows. Our self-care begins to slowly fall off. We take a day off meditation. We don’t pick up our Bible. Sleep becomes a bit less than what we should get. Eating is erratic or forgotten. Personal connection also drops off. Rigorous honesty becomes subjective. If we don’t see it, and others around us aren’t aware or don’t see it either those subtle things snowball. We get into behaviors that served us in adolescence, but as adults are maladaptive and don’t serve us as adults.
Proverbs 21: 16-17 (The Message)
But through the years, I’ve learned something about restlessness. Whenever I have it, I need to seek God. I need to go to him with my restless heart and ask Him for the answer. It’s really tempting to call friends and ask their advice, but only God sees my heart. Only the LORD knows the root of my restless feelings.
So I pray.
And I study Scripture.
And I pray.
And I listen.
And I worship.
Through prayer, not only do we have a conversation or at least check in with God, we can also take a few minutes to listen. We can slow down enough to hear God, even if they’re just whispers. Being able to give thanks and to confess what’s on our hearts begins to open the door to healing and a greater understanding of our purpose.
There’s always a root to the restlessness so, I ask God to show me what it is. Like anything there’s a greater plan we don’t see. God allows us to experience restlessness to get our attention. Eventually it draws us to Him, sometimes in our desperation to find peace. None of us are immune to these moments where we stray, and lest you think you aren’t worthy or can’t do it, you’re not alone. In fact you’re in good company.
“Thou hast made us for thyself, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” -Augustine, Confessions
Saint Augustine of Hippo spoke widely on original sin, grace and God’s love for all of us. Like many of us, St. Augustine didn’t pursue that in his earlier years. He’s admitted to a life of sexual immorality, eventually leading to the birth of a son by a woman he had been living with but not married to. Like many of us, in a moment it all changed. In a time of stillness he heard a voice prompting him to *take and read*. When he looked down, he saw a passage written by the Apostle Paul.
Romans 13: 13-14 (The Message) Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!
Seeing his sinful lifestyle in the quiet, Augustine repented and was baptized on Easter morning.
I’ve been reminded time and again that God’s call, His plan doesn’t make sense from our perspective. But I’ve experienced time and time again that when I’m stressed, frustrated, too busy and irritable, I need to sit and listen because God is trying to show me the way. His way.
Grace, peace and love