"I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest -- and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man."
Proverbs 24: 30-34
I bounce between hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure or self-indulgence) and sloth (laziness), particularly when it comes to following Christ. One moment I am in pursuit of something wonderful, blissfully and full of glee I run towards things that I mistakenly think will bring me pleasure or happiness. Then, after what seems like days and lifetimes of running, I collapse. No sign of a finish line anywhere in sight it seems. And quickly into acedia, sloth, I fall. And just as quickly, I start wondering what the point of it all is. I was running and running -- and never found anything. I start to wonder what the purpose of my wandering is.
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."
Psalm 51 is the cry of my heart. I pray for mercy, forgiveness, cleansing, restoration, and a sustaining spirit. All along the running way I've been staring at my sin that surrounds me on every side. Yet, with every stride, I've been crying out, "Give me a new heart, God. Renew my spirit. Don't leave me in the dust! Come and sustain me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation!"
The joy of salvation. The joy! I keep repeating it with every step. The joy! Run. The joy! Run. The joy! I keep repeating it, hoping to understand it more. To take hold of it better. To better understand the joy of knowing my Savior. To experience His graciousness, forgiveness, and redeeming of my soul in new ways. I keep crying out as He listens and renews, restores, and sustains me. And as He does, the joy of salvation comes closer into view. All I want is to get closer, even if just to touch a corner of it. Like the bleeding woman who pushes her way through the crowd, straining with all she has, to just touch the edge of The Healer's cloak, I push on, hands outstretched, to take hold of the joy that replaces and repairs my brokenness.
"As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 'Who touched me?' Jesus asked...'Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.' Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.'"
What else am I to do with this brokenness? These pieces are all I have to offer Him. The stone wall is ruined, what hand could rebuild it? Only the mighty hand of God. And to my amazement, He accepts my sacrifice of broken pieces, the only thing I have. And it pleases Him, because He is able to shine through the brokenness. His Light shines through the cracks!
Even a little sleep, a little slumber, a slight pause in the run, will make me stop for longer than I want. If I stop, I'll completely stop running before I even reach the reason I started running in the first place. And because I couldn't see it then, I may never start running again.
But, I must. Because the pursuit of something beautiful ends when I find Him. Finding joy in Him is the purpose of running in the first place. I must simply choose to start running. Sluggard and broken no more, but strong, firm, steadfast.
"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."
1 Peter 5:10-11