I have known people who fast and pray and study the Bible and yet are so hard to live with. They are like porcupines—they look wonderful from a distance, but if you get near them, they poke you. They’re arrogant and proud. They can hardly say they’re sorry when they fail.
It’s easy to notice this in other people. But any one of us can end up in this place if we are not actively pursuing the Lord and seeking to know Him. We can find ourselves doing all the right things outwardly while nothing is right on the inside.
The good news is, even if we find ourselves in that spot, we don’t have to be stuck. Our God is a God who helps the blind to see. He feeds the hungry. He heals the sick. We need only to be honest before Him and humbly admit our condition—our nakedness, our blindness and our spiritual poverty. Those who claim they are healthy will never seek the great Physician.
In Revelation 3, Jesus speaks to the church of Laodicea: “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” (Revelation 3:17-18).
Wherever we’re starting from, He will meet us when we come before Him in humility. He will give us everything we need for life and godliness (see 2 Peter 1:3). He can take us to the place again where everything we do overflows from our relationship with God. A place where we are filled with such joy we can’t do enough for Him.
I think back to my mother’s walk with the Lord. It amazes me to think about it. I never saw her reading any book but her Bible; every page of it was well-worn. And I don’t know of any house in my small village that she did not visit to pray, talk to someone or share about the Lord. What was it that made her so radical in her prayer life, sacrifice and giving and yet so private about it? In my culture growing up, with our village lifestyle and large family, it was almost impossible to be private about anything. And yet it was only after her death that we discovered parts of the deeper life she maintained with the Lord.
Who told her to do all these things? No one was pestering her or putting her on a guilt trip. I am certain it only had to do with one thing: Her knowing the Lord personally. That’s what made the difference.
Our journey with the Lord is not just about following rules or finding the right answers to live by. It is the love relationship, the intimacy with Him that becomes the force that propels us to pray and fast, to give and work for the Lord, to sit alone with Him, to meditate on His Word. That is the engine that keeps us going.