Bible Study Blessings

So, today involved getting up at 5 am again for our floating bible study. I’m going to be honest, I really hope we don’t keep that particular time. I can get up that early, and I will get up that early to study the word with this particular group of guys, but I don’t think I will ever like getting up that early. That being said, I have to see today in juxtaposition with the bible study a week ago.

Last Tuesday I was over-tired, apathetic, disconnected… I made no real effort to contribute anything of import in the bible study, and I spent the rest of the day avoiding God. Last Tuesday was a pretty completely crappy day. Today was kind of an awesome day. Even though it was early, the bible study was great! We got into the word pretty deeply, and I thought and learned… and wrote yesterdays blog post about what I thought and learned (at least in part). After the bible study today I did some reading, and then did some writing, and the worked for most of the rest of the day.

I had a good, productive day. I spent time with God, instead of running away from him, and my life reflected that… at least I think my life reflected that. Certainly I was tired for a good part of the day, that’s what getting up at 5 am does to me, but it wasn’t a grumpy, frustrated, easily tempted tired. It was a blessed, refreshed, enjoyable tired. The kind of tired that lets you curl up with a good book, or with a good friend to watch a movie and just enjoy relaxing.

Like I said, I have to juxtapose today with last Tuesday to really see the extreme difference that God makes in my life on a daily basis. It’s a difference that I deeply value, and that I long for. The answer? Focus on him every day. I also met a new acquaintance today. Let’s call her Cindy, she was supposed to get married a few days ago. Supposed to being the key word. She and her fiance broke up a couple of months ago, and she’s pretty obviously still really hurting over it. We talked for a little bit, but we both had work to do.

I have to admit that I feel for Cindy. I didn’t ask why she and her fiance broke up. I’m curious, well… I’m a curious sort of person, but I don’t need to know, and I don’t really think she needs to tell me. It was clear that she was trying not to talk about him, even though she still wanted to, and I get that. I’m a person that generally wants to deal with things, face my pain or my fears, and move on immediately. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but sometimes I think it’s not. I wonder if this is why God has me single right now?

I know that I’m afraid of getting hurt again, and normally I wouldn’t let that stop me from doing something, but maybe (at least sometimes) it should stop me. Perhaps the reason that God wants me single right now is that I need some time to heal. Time that I don’t want to take, that I’m naturally disinclined to take, but that I need to take. I think I’ve mentioned before that I can be an old, stubborn bastard sometimes, and I find that God often has to whack me on the head with a mallet and scream in my ringing ears before I’m willing to listen. It’s something that I’m working on, but it part its something that I value. Not the mallet and screaming part, that would be stupid.

However, often our greatest strengths and our greatest weaknesses stem from the same traits. I generally don’t give up, at least not easily. I keep trying, even when it is clearly pointless to do so, and I have a very hard time letting goals/desires (and people) go. This means that I’m always ready to love someone, that I can forgive pretty much anything, that I’m there for my friends when they need me, and that I’m always ready to help if asked. It also means that it takes me a long time to see that I’m going in the wrong direction, that I hold onto relationships that I really need to let go of, that I’ll keep trying and keep failing at something I have no chance of succeeding at. It’s both one of my best qualities and one of my worst. This is often true of the things we value about ourselves.

Bible Study Burdens

Today has not been a good day. Actually, it’s pretty much been a downright bad day. Here’s the thing, today could have been a good day, it probably could have been a great day, but it wasn’t because I wasn’t. I’ve been meeting with a group of guys for a kind of floating bible study for a while now, and this week the only time we could meet was at 5:30 this morning. That’s right, 5:30… in the morning. So, I went to bed early (like 11), and got up early so that I could be ready and awake for the bible study.

The problem is, for a few days now I’ve been doing my devotions, but not really doing them. You know what I mean. I’ve been in that place where I don’t really want to spend time with God, but I do out of duty. Don’t get me wrong, duty isn’t a bad thing. If someone is spending time with God out of duty, I’m certainly not going to tell them to stop spending time with God. However, there’s a big difference between dutifully going through the motions and really doing the minimum necessary, and passionately devouring the word and spending time listening to and communing with the father. So, for several days now I’ve been going through the motions because I haven’t actually wanted to spend time with God. Ever since my fast ended really.

This morning instead of being interested, motivated, and passionate about getting into the word with a good group of men, I was distracted and ambivalent. I like ambivalent, it’s a good word, but I really don’t like being ambivalent. So, three hours later when we finally get done, I take off and head home, deciding that I’m going to take the rest of the day off… well mostly… as much as I take any day off anyway. I did a little work, worked out, and then watched anime and played video games for most of the rest of the afternoon. The thing is, I spent the entire morning struggling. I was trying to relax and watch a funny anime, but I found that all I wanted to do was look at porn.

So, like the bloody idiot I am, I did. I really don’t like porn. Even if it didn’t appeal strongly to my basest instincts and lead my mind places that I’d rather not go, it has no redemptive value. There are no strong story lines in porn, no great acting, no clear social commentary, no meaningful dialogue… mostly because it’s all about getting off as fast as you can. So, that happened, and then I repented. Still, my day didn’t really get any better.

I’m not going to say that the stain of sin follows you around, it’s doesn’t. Once something is forgiven, that’s that, it’s gone. However, I was tired, lackadaisical, and somewhat morose for the rest of the day. I couldn’t really get into the game I was trying to play, and I wasn’t particularly interested in the show I was watching. I just didn’t particularly care about anything.

However, after most of a day of this I finally got myself off my ass and took a friend out to dinner. After that the rest of the night got better… until I ran into a mutual friend of that lady I’ve been thinking about. She told me that she and a couple of other mutual friends are thinking about fixing said lady up with another mutual friend… and again my day plummets downwards. Not for long this time though.

Here’s the thing. After all of this, all the struggle, the sin, the apathy, and the disappointment, I finally did what I should have done a while ago. I went and spent about an hour actually talking to God. Not listlessly flipping through pages in my bible. Not hurriedly saying a few rote words of praise and supplication. I spent an while actually talking to him. This made all the difference. It got me out of my funk for one, but he also pointed out that I shouldn’t have been particularly disappointed in the first place.

I’m finally happy being single, remember? Did I forget that? Why yes, yes I think I must have. I need to be single for a while to solidify that… well, to let him solidify that. I don’t need to be dating anyone right now, or pining after anyone right now, because I’m supposed to be single, and I knew that… I just forgot about it. More than that, as much as I might regret spending a few days thoroughly indifferent towards him, he wasn’t indifferent towards me.

We all go through times when we don’t particularly want to talk to God, and he always brings us out of them. Why? Because he’s perfect and we’re not. I failed to look to him for my strength, which I really needed after my fast, but he didn’t fail me. He was just waiting for me to be ready, and that took some doing. I think I’m getting better about recognizing these times and turning to him during them, but I still fail miserably sometimes, and he forgives me.

So, all in all, my day sucked. However, it turned out good in the end, when I finally turned to God for help. This brings me back to what I’ve said time and again. We must turn to God. The more quickly we turn to God, the better off we are, and the faster we’ll get out of whatever funk we’re in. Turn to God and let him bear your burdens. You sure as hell can’t do it alone.