Re-entry has been nothing like what I expected. Leaving India, I expected to come home on fire for the LORD. I figured I would be able to easily put into practice all I had learned in India. I thought I would continue growing in my faith and learning at the same rate I had while in India.
Shortly after getting home, I was struggling to get through my personal quiet time. I caught myself praying “God, I don’t understand the distance I feel from you. Since coming home from India, you feel so far away.” Then, even as I prayed, I realized the truth.
It was as if God spoke these words to me “Daughter, have you sought me diligently as you did in India? Do you get up two hours early every morning to spend time with me and listen for my voice? Are you searching for the things unseen as you go about your day? I am right here. Just talk to me. Draw near to me,”
As my thoughts continued down that road, I was reminded of James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” I could no longer complain about the distance between myself and God when I realized I was the one placing it there.
In the mornings, instead of getting up early and delighting in my time with the Lord I would flip my alarm off and roll over for an extra hour of sleep or I would flip my computer on to check my email. Instead of spending time in prayer, I would turn on music and allow my thoughts to wander. It was much easier to slip into old habits and even form new bad ones than it was to put into practice the things I had hoped to continue in.
Even after I realized where the distance in my relationship with God was coming from, I continued to slide down a path I would rather not have taken. My time spent with the LORD was reduced from hours of pouring over scriptures and baring my heart before the LORD to a few forced minutes of reading at night and distracted prayers on my way to work. I hated the distance, yet could not seem to close the gap.
In my mind, I began thinking “When we go backpacking in the mountains next week I’ll have extra time, I’ll get up early, I’ll get back on the right track.” Well, it turns out it is just as easy to turn off an alarm in a tent in the mountains as it is in my room at home. After returning from the trip, I found myself in the same boat as before, floundering aimlessly in my walk with the LORD. After that, I began looking towards the next event, a Bible camp I would be serving at, and then another backpacking trip. It didn’t take long to realize and event was not going to help me get rid of bad habits and jump-start new ones. I knew something would have to change.
Just the other night, I was talking with one of my teammates about re-entry. As we shared our struggles, we discovered a common theme. We both acknowledged that the biggest struggle we were facing was in our walk with the LORD. We had both been allowing distractions to take over and were lacking dedication in our time with God each day. As we ended our discussion, we agreed to keep each other accountable.
A couple of days later, I opened up my Bible to Psalm 119. I planned on reading for a few minutes before I hit the lights and went to bed. By verse two I was cringing. “Blessed are those…who seek the Lord with their whole heart.” Exactly, what I had not been doing. I realized the lameness of the few minutes I had intended to set aside for reading that night. Scripture is often said to be a mirror, and as I read, I could no longer stand the reflection I was seeing. I resolved in my mind to make an end of the apathy I was wallowing in. I set my alarm and determined to get up early the next morning in order to spend time earnestly seeking the LORD.
The next morning, I followed through. After reading and spending time in prayer, my day got off to a good start. Instead of being discouraged by my own apathy, I felt renewed by my time in the word.
As I began to notice the change in my days, I was reminded of what I dear friend from India was constantly telling me. “If I don’t start my day with prayer, it doesn’t go right. I just don’t feel right if I don’t go up to the mountain and pray in the mornings.” Every day, this dear friend of mine, would get up at 5:00 in the morning and climb to the hilltop in the village called prayer mountain. After spending time with the LORD, he knew He could start his day on the right foot. How right He was! Although I knew these things to be true in my heart, my mind took a while longer to get it.
I’ve realized the importance of starting the day right, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. It will still be just as easy to turn my alarm off an roll over, but I don’t want to settle for that any longer. My hearts desire is that I may draw near to God in order for Him to draw nearer to me. I want truly want to seek Him with my whole heart. “I [am choosing] the way of faithfulness” (Psalm 119:30).