Continued from here.
If God was a spiritual vending machine, not only would we remain as selfish as the world, but we would seek God for His gifts rather than for Him. When you hear a child talk about Santa Claus, it’s all about the child: “**I** want Santa to bring **me** X for Christmas.” There’s no focus on the man (who is, admittedly, fictitious) – on why he chooses to spend his time giving generously to children all over the world. God, however, is a real Person who is seeking a real relationship with you. He wants you to seek a relationship with HIM, not for what He can do for you.
I believe this is one reason that spiritually mature people report having undergone a season (or even multiple seasons) of the dark night of the soul. The way I would describe the dark night of the soul is when you are engaging in the same spiritual disciplines that have worked before but nothing resonates with you. Your prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling. Your praise and worship times feel empty. Your attempts at Sabbath rest are not restful. You study the Bible, and you experience no epiphanies, no matter which passages of text you read. You keep looking for God, but He seems nowhere to be found. Why does God do this?
Just as one cannot develop patience without waiting, I believe the fear of the Lord cannot be fully developed without a dark night of the soul. It’s easy to keep following God when that relationship is accompanied by “spiritual highs.” However, will I continue to seek Him when all of the blessings are removed … when I fail to sense His presence … when I see no harvest after sowing all of the seeds … after I have made all the sacrifices and see no positive results? When the spiritual vending machine dispenses absolutely nothing, will I still pursue Him? Will I continue pursuing a relationship with God – one in which He is completely silent – even when I see absolutely nothing in it for me? Will I continue to trust, obey, and thank Him when I receive absolutely nothing in return?
I believe the dark night of the soul is the ultimate test of whether we are seeking God for what He can do for us (spiritual vending machine) or whether we sincerely want HIM. Once we prove that HE – and not His gifts – are the desire of our hearts, only then are we able to truly walk in the fear of the Lord, leading us to the spiritual maturity to handle the many blessings God wants to shower upon those who truly love Him.
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace carrying a large pile of presents. Courtesy Bitmoji.]