Wandering into the Thorns?

AnOldSinner suffered from a form of writer’s block a few months ago. I would come up with an idea, write about half of the piece, and lock up. I blamed it on how busy I was with my studies at Seminary, trying to do a little work to help pay for my seminary studies and all the other distractions of life. It turned out that was not the only problem.

I had fallen back into some old ways of thinking. Once again, I was allowing my ego to control what I was doing. This time, it told me how wonderful I was and how wonderful things were going. I was taking seminary classes, making great grades, and writing things for class that were getting great reviews from some of my peers. I was even reading my Bible regularly, which had always been difficult.

I laid the Bible aside in my late teens. I did not touch it again for decades. Even after I rededicated myself to Christ, I looked at the Bible as a reference book of sorts. It was where I turned if I needed to verify what God thought about something. It was also the place I turned for moral clarity. I never believed the propaganda that one needed to read the Bible daily as a way to deepen faith and grow spiritually. I thought that was the purpose of church.

Seminary classes and the professors’ passion convinced me that I needed to reconsider my position. I began to believe that the Bible was meant to be more than a reference book for Christians. Accordingly, I have been much better about setting time aside to read the scripture. Also, I tried to use that time to give some structure to my prayer life.

Everything was working amazingly well. I was spending time in the Bible and time in prayer every day. I was not perfect, but I was making progress. At least, that is what I thought.

One day I was again in a rush. I needed to finish some homework, get to the office, try to make a little money to help pay my tuition and run some errands. I got up, worked out, cleaned up, rushed to my desk, pulled up my Bible, opened my journal, and made a little joking comment to God.

I said. “I’m sorry I hurry through the Bible reading and prayer so often. There is just a lot to get done.” I finished the passages I was supposed to read, made a journal entry about them, and sat back to pray. I started to open my mouth, and nothing came out.

I was empty. I was alone. It was as if my home office and I had been whisked to some far-off location, a location with no living soul for miles. I could hear my wife downstairs, but I was alone. I realized I had not felt this alone for years. Not only was I alone, I was afraid.

Fear is something I know well. I was a police officer for more than twenty-five years. In those years, I faced many frightening situations. Times when I thought I was going to be severely injured or killed. Times when I thought I would be forced to take another person’s life, and when I had to stand by helplessly as someone died. Times when circumstances were so stressful, I pulled back into my shell and went on automatic pilot.

I still remember the sights, sounds, and feel of each of those situations. I can remember the sense of loneliness and fear I felt. Yet, they paled compared to what I felt that morning sitting at my desk.

I faced a choice that morning. I could take the next step on the slippery slope of pride and arrogance. I could begin the slide back into a world I knew well. The world where I could pretend to be the captain of my ship. Or I could get down on my knees and pray.

Yes, I was alone. I was alone because, in my own way, I had again walled myself off from God. I was trying to control my life, including how much time I spent with Him. When that light dawned, I wasted no time getting on my knees.

It would have been easy to start some rote prayer asking for forgiveness or giving thanks. Instead, I waited. I did not have a clue about what to say or what I needed to do. I just knew I needed to be on my knees before God. As He had done before, He opened my heart, and my confession poured out.

I learned a lesson that morning. A lesson I thought I had learned years earlier, but that was obviously not the case.

I learned that I am still seeking. I did not find God as a child when I accepted Jesus the Christ as my Savior. Almost forty years later, I did not find God when I dropped to my knees and asked His forgiveness for running from Him for so many years. I did not find Him on my knees that morning. I don’t need to find Him.

He’s always been there. He is a part of me. He is simply waiting for me to join Him now and for eternity. I needed to quit shutting Him out. To do that, I must remember something Jesus taught. He said, “Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.” (Luke 8:7, NASB)

I am not a seed. A seed is stuck where it is sewn, where it is blown, or where it is dropped. I can stay on fertile ground or stray into less nurturing areas. God has been gracious enough to set me back on the path of good soil several times.

My job is to quit wandering off into the thorns.  How about you?

© S. E. Jackson – 2014 (Edited and Updated-2022)

About S. Eric Jackson

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