Once again I’ve disappointed myself. This time it took about 5 days to totally blow my plan to eat healthy and exercise regularly. Now I have my excuses all ready but I can tell that you just aren’t interested, and frankly, I’m not interested in the excuses either. Some people call this “backsliding.”
Maybe you get the picture: one moment you’re happily walking along, strutting nearly, the next moment you’re on your backside or flat on your face because you missed the curb, you slipped on the patch of ice or you stepped on something and totally twisted your ankle. Whatever it was it brought you down faster than you thought possible.
Too many broken promises
My walk with Jesus is often the same. Maybe I’ve heard a great message or enjoyed a great time of singing and hearing God speak right to my heart and I’m smitten. There’s nothing I won’t do to follow Him or to show Him my devotion and sometimes this commitment lasts days or weeks, sometimes it’s only hours or minutes before I’m backing down, slipping sliding away.
A.W. Tozer said, “Christians don’t tell lies, they just go to church and sing them.” We’re hopeless. We’re sincere in our belief that Jesus is the only way but its been so long since we had an encounter with Jesus that some of us have even given up that these encounters happen. When a young believer is excitedly telling a story of encounter, we smile knowingly – one day they’ll see that following Christ is all about hard work, sacrifice and gaining knowledge.
Are you like me? Can’t even remember what happened, you just know that you’re not as close as you once were. And you’re not sure that you could find your way back.
Why do I fail so often?
In his book Union & Communion, Hudson Taylor suggests that there are 3 categories that cause backsliding in a sincere believer:
- Over security: believing that nothing can separate us from God’s love, and not striving against personal idols.
- Trying to make Jesus more attractive; we compromise in the hopes that a friend will turn to Jesus.
- I forget that unless I swim hard, I’ll drift with the current of the world. A runner doesn’t have to turn around and run the wrong way to lose the race, she just has to slow down.
The writer of Song of Songs describes this season in chapter 2.8 – 3.5. The bride loves her bridegroom! She brags on him, rests in the sanctuary he’s put her in and then when he comes to take her away into ministry, she is excited, hesitates, loses heart and then sends him away. It’s tragic. The compromises she’s made (the song calls them “Little foxes”) have made her incapable of the very thing she wants most.
(Hebrews 2.1, 1 John 5.21 & James 4.4 all describe this season)
But, there is good news. The story doesn’t end here because God has a solution.
The Bride’s path to restoration
The Bride gives us a clue about how to restore our relationship with Christ when we’ve backslidden.
- She remembers her first (highest) love, and wants him back.
- She makes the effort to search him out. The believer opens scripture, restarts prayer, repents of compromise.
- She finds him near the company of the saints. Watchmen are intercessors so if you aren’t sure where to find your first love, find the Watchmen (and women).
- She holds on tight. This is certainly repentance and pleading for his presence. She’s ready to go with him now, wherever he’s going.
(God is sovereign and he could restore our communion without our efforts, but it gives him great delight to woo us into wanting him. His plan is to make us wholehearted lovers!)
A plan to stop sliding away
How about us? How long since we looked at the little compromises in our lives that keep us from fully trusting and following him? What blessings are we missing out on because we’re not maturing in our love for him? How much are we missing out on? I hope you’re with me on this journey of being wooed into great trust in Jesus.