I read some grandiose words while scrolling through WordPress yesterday. The zealous author was proclaiming how he would always do this and never do that.
I smiled because it reminded me of the time Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” To which Jesus replied, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I smiled because I’ve been there.
And now I’m here, in a hazy spiritual fog.
The fog can roll in on the best of us, and I’ve grown tired of passively waiting for the Son to burn it off. So yesterday I spoke up:
“It feels like my spirit is trapped in a haze, Lord, and I don’t know how to shake it off. How do I get out of this fog and back into close fellowship with You?”
I grabbed The Full Life Study Bible I inherited from my dad and opened it, unintentionally, to the book of Malachi. Actually to the outline just before the book. There it was, midway down the outline, the question that has been on my heart:
“How are we to return?”
How am I to return?
I started to read while the Spirit talked me through Malachi’s entire Q & A. It came down to this:
1. Appreciate the Almightiness of His Love.
There is a distinct place, a distinct love, to which to return:
God: “I have loved you.”
Israel: “How have you loved us?”
God: “I made a distinction between you and your brother. I chose you.
His love is revealed in the choosing. And that choosing ought to mean something.
I don’t know why You revealed yourself so clearly and unmistakably to me, and not to my sisters, but You did. You did and it is huge.
2. Get His Cross Back in Balance.
“Judah broke faith,” whispered the Spirit. “They got into bed with a foreign god. They kept bringing their offerings to Me, though, and then flooded the altar with tears because I was no longer paying attention to them.”
Israel: “Why don’t you care about us anymore?”
God: “I’m sticking up for your wives. You’ve been cruel to them, you’ve been casting them aside and I hate that. I made you one flesh because I wanted godly offspring, not so you could give lip service to me and then run around on your wives and expect a blessing. Not so you could act just like the brother I did not choose. Are you kidding me?”
I get it, Spirit, but I’m not running around on the hub. So what’s the equivalent? Am I running around on You? Am I getting too cozy with the world? Am I acting like those who don’t know You? Have I gotten your holiness and your compassion out of balance? I confess I have not been taking You as seriously as You deserve to be taken.
It’s so easy to do these days with everyone debating how God feels about homosexuality and gay marriage. It’s tempting to want to be liked by everyone, to want to make everyone feel good, be the compassionate one, to ignore His holiness. But to ignore His holiness is to say that we are kinder than He is. And we’re not.
3. Find a Church that Isn’t Playing.
God: “I made a covenant of life and peace with [the priests, pastors, church leaders] and that covenant called for reverence and awe, yet you show contempt for my name. Where is the honor due me?”
Priests: “How have we shown contempt for your name?”
God: “You bring me lame offerings.”
It’s the Cain thing again.
I have grown lazy, I admit it.
Yes, you have, but this one is on your church. The awe and the reverence due Me are gone. The awe has become all about the polished music, the polished programming, the lights and smoke and staging, the numbers, the awesome things they are doing, “the wow factor” and the desire to be better than anyone else in town.
“Oh that one of you would shut the [church’s] doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar!”
I know. You know I know. You know how I have longed to worship in honor and awe, in a place that draws from me Your spiritual best. You know how I long for a church that isn’t playing.