When I was younger and hearing Old Testament Bible stories, I wondered how in the span or a generation (or less) God's people could turn away and pursue other gods. The cyclical nature of their relationship with God baffled me. Why didn't they learn from their history that to turn away from God meant disaster, while following him brought blessing? Again and again they were unfaithful, but when they cried out to God for deliverance he rescued them.
I don't find their disobedience so hard to understand any more. That's because I go through periods when my heart is far from God and I am merely going through the motions of a Christian life. I have been going through such a period for some time now. I wouldn't define it as a dark night of the soul, though I have experienced that before. I would call it a time of spiritual barrenness and lassitude. My prayers are few and are either crisis prayers or monologues to God about what is wrong between me and him and how I don't believe it can change. I may occasionally pray for others, but my prayers lack conviction.
I want to have some epiphany, some shining moment that will turn things around and change the course of my life. I know that the times I have felt closest to God have been times when I am ill and need to rely on him. But I don't want to be ill.
In church I sing the repetitive choruses, but I don't feel anything, no spark of connection, no sense of awe. The Bible fails to excite me or motivate me. I am numb to its transforming power. I feel no thirst or hunger, only an emptiness.
So now I understand how God's people could hear of God's mighty acts of deliverance or witness it themselves and still turn away. I know what it is to have a heart grown cold, hard as a stone. What I don't understand is how God could continue to show himself faithful to such a faithless people. Was the cost of redemption worth the lacklustre results?
I have been told that Christ would have gone to the cross even if it could only save one person, even if it could only restore me, and me alone, to God. But now I wonder if he is as frustrated as I am at this cycle of futility. What will it take to turn my hardened heart into a heart of flesh and to breathe new life into these dry bones? Maybe just a willingness to cry out to him for deliverance... a desperation for him. A simple remedy, so why is it so difficult?