Recently, while preparing to speak at a women's conference, I embarked on one of the most intense seasons of spiritual warfare in my Christian walk. Though the topic was one I had a genuine passion for, I experienced a tremendous struggle whenever I sat down to study and craft the messages.
I'd been looking forward to exploring the material, but now my concepts were painfully slow in coming, and the harder I tried the more frustrated I became. It was frightening and demoralizing.
I reasoned that the warfare was due to the subject my host had chosen for the meetings. My prayers had definitely been more intense than usual. As the time for the gathering approached, I started seeing some reward for my efforts, but God was still refining the messages after I arrived at the conference site.
The Lord graciously met us during our time together. But I couldn't shake the feeling that all wasn't well with me.
Not until I'd returned home did God begin to show me the reason I had struggled so. In my heart I heard, "You're living too far from home."
Instantly, I knew what the Spirit of the Lord meant. I'd read this sentiment in Amy Carmichael's devotional book, Edges of His Ways (Christian Literature Crusade).
What I experienced is similar to what we've all felt in prayer. You may be lingering on your knees but your time seems unfruitful; Jesus, the lover of your soul, seems remote.
Carmichael wrote: "I think distractions in prayer are often because we have let ourselves wander too far from the things that matter most at common times, and so we have slipped into an easily interrupted, easily distracted, frame of mind. We need to live more at home."
How heartbroken I was to know that my interests and pursuits, though not sinful, could potentially lure me away from "home," the place where I'm continuously aware of His presence.
I wouldn't dream of dictating to any of you the amount of time you are to give to thoughts of God or the level of intimacy to which you should aspire. But we have a responsibility to enter into the fullness of the kind of relationship God has made available for us to enjoy.
Amy Carmichael's remedy for those intermittent periods of remoteness in our relationship with God is routinely to take a long, hard look at Calvary every day. I believe she's right.
I challenge you to look away to Jesus more often. His cross answers our questions, settles our complaints and lifts the burdens from our shoulders. I pray you always find it to be a vehicle God uses to help you find your way home.
Brenda J. Davis is the former editor of Spirit Led Woman, frequent contributor to Charisma and speaker.