This morning I read a question that got me thinking about my spiritual journey. The question was this: Using only one word, how would you describe your Christian life? My answer: jagged. I would love to say that my journey is steady and consistent, marked by ever-increasing awareness of God’s presence and activity in my life. But the truth is that my journey is jagged. Not only do I have periods where nothing seems to be happening on a spiritual level and God seems light years away, but also I have times when I seem to be moving backwards. Certainly there is positive change although it usually takes me quite a while to recognize it. I am consistent in my devotional and prayer time, at least until I go on vacation or someone comes to visit or I have an early appointment. Then my routine goes out the window, not that I lock God out (as if that were possible), but I don’t have my usual “quiet time.” I am also painfully aware of how often I am self-absorbed, critical of others, or try to maintain my “image.” Then there are those times I feel nudged to do something for someone, but don’t act immediately, and end up losing the opportunity. I suppose there is some consolation that I even recognize these shortfalls; there was a time when I didn’t. So my journey is jagged, often feeling as if I take one step backwards for every two steps forward. But thanks be to God, whose love is relentless and whose compassion is unfailing. God woos and calls me back time after time, and never gives up on me. Henri Nouwen said it best in The Only Necessary Thing.
God does not require a pure heart before embracing us. Even if we return only because following our desires has failed to bring happiness, God will take us back. Even if we return because being a Christian brings us more peace than being a pagan, God will receive us. Even if we return because our sins did not offer as much satisfaction as we had hoped, God will take us back. Even if we return because we could not make it on our own, God will receive us. God’s love does not require any explanations about why we are returning. God is glad to see us home and wants to give us all we desire, just for being home (p.73)