“I think my prayers are just hitting the ceiling.”
I’ve heard it a number of times from people who abandoned Christ. It is discouragement at the deepest level. The heart aches when the person you love most of all seems to be absent. Maybe even non-existent. It’s like marrying air. There seems to be nothing there, that everything sought and worked for and praised was really the most devastating of all illusions.
You may know someone who has abandoned Christ on this account. I know several. The pain they sense is deep. Really deep. So deep that one wonders if this is not akin to the teaching in Hebrews 6 regarding those who have known and tasted but rejected. I don’t know that that’s a proper interpretation of the passage but the sentiment seems the same: An intentional rejection of what was once accepted.
For the past two centuries we’ve been hyped on “great things for God.” But what happens when we don’t see those “great thing” in our lives? Is God there? Is anyone there?
In my opinion the church has placed a burden of expectation in the minds of people. We’re all expected to share Christ in a certain revivalist fashion. We’re expected to know all sort of stuff. Apologetics today is so filled with classical and analytic philosophers that there is no room for the average Dick & Jane. What’s a person to do when all the “great” things to be done are completely out of reach? We have too many celebrities in the church.
We’ve forgotten the core principle of maturity in the New Testament church. It’s really simple: To be found faithful. It’s a qualification for leadership in the church. It’s ascribed to the work of Christ all through Romans (Christ’s faith was always functional — it was His faithfulness). Hebrews covers faithfulness all the way through. Faith is simplest matter of thoughtful commitment.
But the question remains: What about God? We read in the Old Testament about Elijah’s depression. He was doing great things for God. That’s what we are to aspire to, isn’t it? Well, no. Not at all. Not in the least. I Kings 19:18 says “Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.“
We don’t know the names of these 7,000. All we know is that they were faithful. We’ve no record of them doing “great things.” We don’t know their names or their family names. They were merely faithful. That’s enough.
It is enough that one is faithful. It is enough when one prays regularly. It is enough when one teaches faithfully. It is enough when one helps the poor and when one shares both the encouragement and discipline of other believers. When one does, when you do, what needs to be done — that’s all the Lord expects. Nothing less, nothing more.