The few faithful readers of this blog may have been concerned about a lapse in posts recently. I have struggled recently with time, inspiration, and motivation. This can be seen in the column to the right – my monthly number of postings has steadily dropped since September. I apologize.
One of the things that has held me back is a relative lack of inspiration from which to draw. To be blunt, I have been suffering from a minor case of writer’s block. When I am stuck in a metaphorical writing rut, I have a number of things I rely on to help me get out of the rut, including listening to music and increasing time spent in extracurricular reading. Usually I am able to cure my writer’s block and get back in the swing of things.
This time was a little different though. I didn’t really use these means to help my writer’s block. Instead, the mere act of reflecting on my struggle to find a topic helped to give me inspiration, for I started to think of how my writer’s block related to that lifelong struggle to grow in love, grace, and holiness commonly called the Christian walk.
This act of reflecting (the majority of which happened during my shower this morning) got me thinking about a different sort of “block” in my personal, spiritual growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Ups and downs are a regular struggle of the Christian life. Periods of “highs” and being on fire for God are often followed by spiritual lows of struggles with sin or coasting. How do I minimize and combat these periods of drought? Using my writer’s block solutions like listening to rich, uplifting music might lift my spirits temporarily, but isn’t the total solution. It’s a problem of sin, and needs to be remedied by the grace of God.
One of the main “solutions” is going back to God’s Word – the Bible, which points us to Christ. Prayer is also a means for sanctification and growth. In these [sinful] periods of lacking confidence and drive to overcome my sin and temptation, I sometimes need to coerce myself to get back in the Scripture and to pray for the Holy Spirit’s grace. I need to repent of my stubborn sins and ask forgiveness for sinning against a holy, perfect God. I have confidence that I am forgiven because of the atoning work of Christ on the cross for me. What a humbling and awesome thought.
John Piper in The Roots of Endurance writes of the dilemma I (and probably many Christians) face: the human will. He says that “the human will cannot be depended on, because in the crisis of faith it is precisely the will that is weak and falling. The question is: Who will seize it and bring it back to God in faith?” I am reminded of the great hymn “Come Thou Fount:”
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be.
Let that grace, now, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, O, take and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above.
I constantly am reminded of my need to pray this prayer – that God by his grace will bind my wandering heart to him. I know I can’t do it on my own. I echo Charles Simeon’s words that I need to find my assurance and strength “in the sovereignty of God in choosing such a one – and the mercy of God in pardoning such a one – and the patience of God in bearing with such a one – and the faithfulness of God in perfecting his work and performing all his promises to such a one.”