Watch Out for the Valleys
Updated: Apr 29
I started April close to God, but 8 days in, I found myself far away from Him. It's odd how fast you can fall. Up on the mountain one minute. Promising God you'll pick Him over your writing. Drawing comfort from His presence when an agent says no and being okay with the rejection because you know He wouldn't close the door without good reason. Deleting a devotional you'd spent ages on because He asked you to.
I only said no to one little thing. No biggie. It won't matter if I say no just this once. Right?
What was this one little thing?
I was reading Ps. 119 for my devotions in March (yes, back in March!) and got to verse 10. 'With my whole heart have I sought thee.' That phrase 'whole heart' pulled out of the text, and God whispered, "Write a devotional on what it means to seek me with your whole heart."
And how did I reply? "Whole heart? That sounds big. No, I don't want to." I mean who would even miss it? It's just a little devotional.
Spoiler. The answer to that is me.
I mean, nothing big happened. There was no tragedy, no huge event to prove I'd made the wrong choice. Yet, I started to skip my Bible reading without even noticing that I was. Eventually, I got to verse 69. 'I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.'
There it was again. Whole heart, but no, I still wouldn't write about it. A few days later on March 30th, I created a post about verse 103. About finding all of God's law sweet. "See, God? That will do. No one needs a devotional about their whole heart."
Still, nothing big happened. And that's often the way. There is no big sign that says, 'You're doing downhill.' No, smoke or fires. Just a coldness and distance that slips in undetected.
Tragedies of the faith often creep in quietly. So, watch out for those valleys.
Fast forward and a week into April, I couldn't pray. I was skipping several days between Bible readings, and I was baffled why. I mean, I'd put God over my writing when the agent rejected me. I'd deleted the devotional when He asked me. (Although some subscribers got it anyway. Apparently deleting a scheduled post 9 hours before it goes out isn't enough warning for computers. Who knew? My apologies.).
I still had no idea what was going on, but I started to pick up my Bible first thing in the morning because I knew I needed to. Knew I needed to pray, but it wasn't working. God wasn't speaking through His Word. He wasn't answering when I asked Him what was wrong. My prayers were stunted and short.
How did I get here, so far away from God, after such triumph? Where had this valley come from?
I finally reached the end of Ps. 119, and God answered my prayer with verse 145. 'I cried with my whole heart.' That's when I remembered God asking me to write about whole hearts, and my disobedient response.
Well, I wasn't going to make that mistake again. So, I stopped to contemplate what it means to seek God with our whole heart, and He reminded me of Peter in John 21. Here's a summary of what happened.
Jesus asked Peter, 'Do you love me unconditionally?'
And Peter said, 'I love you like a friend.'
Jesus, 'Do you love me unconditionally?'
Peter, 'I love you like a friend.'
Jesus, 'Do you love me like a friend?'
And Peter wept, but he still didn't promise to love Jesus unconditionally.
Several days before that, Peter had promised he'd never deny Christ. Fast forward a few hours, and he did it three times, even cursing. My fall wasn't so dramatic, but it was still traumatic to my faith.
God is King of all, and if you don't give Him all your heart, this image is the best way I can describe what happens.
It only takes one no.
You can say thousands of yeses. You can witness Jesus coming back from the dead, then decide, 'Yeah, that was cool, but I'd rather go fishing.' And right there is when you took a part of your heart back.
So, the next time God asks you to do something that seems like it won't be a big deal. Say, yes, anyway. It only takes one no to shatter all the good work you've done so far.
I mean, this 'small thing' was actually a big deal. It wasn't just a devotional. God was essentially asking, "Do you love me unconditionally?" I said, "Not my whole heart, God. You can have some of it. That's good enough for me." But it wasn't good enough for God, and our relationship fell apart.
Give God your whole heart.
Wholehearted stuff is not for the faint of heart. It's a huge commitment. But when God asks something of you, it's amazing how fast you fall the moment you say no. Loving God isn't something you can do with half your heart. You can't pick Him over a few things. He is King of all, and until He is King of your whole heart, you'll never be right, and before you know it, you'll be far, far away.
Are you seeking God with your whole heart?
Broken Heart Image by https://pixabay.com/users/roszie-6000120 Free to use under the Content License. No attribution required.
Heart in Hand Image by https://pixabay.com/users/noname_13-2364555 Free to use under the Content License. No attribution required.