I’ve been a Christian for half of my life. I remember the early days of being a Christian: the thrill of knowing of God; the eagerness to read the Bible; the boldness (maybe sometimes brashness) in telling others the gospel; the excitement of beholding the God of who created the universe and redeemed a people in Christ. Some describe the early days of being a Christian as the “honeymoon” stage.
But as the years go on, God leads His people to be less dependent on how they feel and more dependent on Him despite how they feel. There is a growing in Christian maturity that leads a believer to trust God and see Him as glorious and true, even if the excitement of the honeymoon stage wears off. Much like in a human in a marriage, the honeymoon stage is sweet but it passes after a time; then individuals really learn how to love sacrificially.
Lately I’ve found myself discouraged at how COLD my heart is toward God. I see a lack of warmth, a lack of delight, even a kind of boredom toward my Creator. Perhaps, some of it is remembering how “on fire” I was in my first years as a Christian and a longing for that—though I can see how much God has changed and sustained me over the years and I would not want to return to that earlier stage of immaturity in my life! Surely, part of this also is due to what I take into my heart: if I am feeding my soul on the world—”finding my hope and happiness, significance and security in the created rather than the Creator” (New City Catechism 17)—then God will seem boring to me.
It seems that part of growing as a Christian is daily learning to see that God as greater than all the world has to offer. He is the great treasure, better than anything we could ever want. It is here that I have felt discouraged—how I wished my heart believed this more truly and deeply.
But here is where I have also been encouraged by the gospel. Jesus died for our cold hearts. He died for our propensity to find Facebook or a bathroom remodel or a relationship or success or money as more glorious than the infinite glorious living God. He died for my wandering heart which believes in God, but then wanders to other loves. This is part of the wonderful salvation and redemption I have in Jesus.
I found this a potent truth when I finally remembered it recently. I don’t have to sit here and beat myself up on how cold my heart is; instead, I look to Jesus the savior of my idolatrous, cold heart. I look the one who conquered sin and evil and loved me and gave Himself for me (Gal 2:20) and cry out for help. I cry out and rest on the truth that He has saved me and made me a new Creation (2 Cor 5:17). I need not despair, but instead can delight and trust and love my gracious God who knows my propensity to wander and disbelieve.
I’m sure of this ruminating on the gospel was helped by reading Dane Ortlund’s book “Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers,” where he helps the reader sees how good Jesus is and kind to us even in our sin—and Ortlund basically makes the same kind of point I’m making in this post over and over again in his book. (I heartily recommend it!)