They say the most miserable person in the world is a backslidden Christian and I think that’s true. Those who have tasted God’s goodness and still wallow around in the muck – for whatever reason – are not the happiest people to be around.
I remember the experience all too well. As a young man at university I tried my best to rebel against everything I’d learnt growing up in a Christian home. I felt I had to discover life for myself and try everything out, at least once, otherwise I was missing out.
I didn’t realise then that was a big lie. It’s amazing how quickly we can lose perspective. I had so much to gain by continuing to follow Jesus and yet I never considered that, I only thought about what I was losing.
The fear of ‘missing out’ took me down a lot of paths that were far from God and His ‘Manufacturers Instructions’ for daily living. Today I realise the Creator knows best, but back then I was on a path to self destruction.
The thing was, all the things that I was doing didn’t make me happy. The Bible says there is pleasure in sin for a season but ultimately it leads to destruction. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life.”
It has also been said that there is a God-shaped vacuum inside each of us and we spend so many fruitless hours trying to fill it with so many things but none of these things ultimately bring contentment. Each person will have a different set of things and yet I think we all face the same level of difficulty in trying to overcome them.
For some it may be a life-controlling addiction that holds you back from following God wholeheartedly, or a particular relationship that you can’t give up or an anger at God because you feel He has let you down in some way. Whatever it is, remember that Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly. I knew that, yet for too long I pursued worthless things.
“All the vain things that charm me most,” as the hymn describes them… the things we all have to learn to sacrifice to His blood.
You don’t have to be miserable
If you are miserable today, depressed or unhappy there could be 101 reasons. If you have a genuine mental health condition then it’s crucial you talk about it to your doctor and get the help you need. However if you are miserable primarily because you are running from God, in some area of your life, then I encourage you to stop running.
Remember the example of Jonah, who God called to go on a mission to Nineveh and yet He refused. Through an extraordinary chain of events that only God could have orchestrated, he finally came to his senses and fulfilled his calling. It’s amazing how God has a way of getting through to us and causing all things to work together for good!
When you return to God you may very well find that what you have been searching for has been there all the time. You just need to stop long enough to realise it.
Jesus is the friend that stays closer than a brother. When I recommitted my life to Him I realised He had never left me. In fact my eyes opened and I saw the many times He had protected me when I had acted foolishly. How He had stopped me, by His grace, from making silly mistakes in my rebellion and turmoil. How He had blocked so many things so many times to my utter frustration!
James 1: 6-7 says: “for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” If we waver between serving God and serving our own fleshly desires we end up in a state of turmoil and we will accomplish nothing with our lives.
God wants us to leave our misery at the foot of the Cross, where we can lay all our burdens down. When we do this we embrace His abundant life. We are not missing out, we are gaining big time!
Accept the salvation Jesus offers you today. Not just for eternity but to move the mountains in your way today. Be resolute in your decision making and choose to serve God with all your heart. As the classic Christian song goes…
“I have decided to follow Jesus / No turning back, no turning back. / The world behind me, the Cross before me / No turning back, no turning back. / Though none go with me, still I will follow / No turning back, no turning back.”
Backslider, slide back to God and let there be no turning back! Though you will still face trials and old temptations may return to test you, you will face them determined to never return to that state of misery again. That is not where we belong. We are are seated in Heavenly places with Christ!
Yes the enemy will challenge us, especially in our identity. He will try and put all kinds of thoughts into our heads. “You’re missing out,” “you’re not good enough, why bother, why even try?” “You could be much happier if you’d only give in to…” However we know he is the father of all lies.
We know the truth and where genuine happiness can be found. In God’s Kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.