by Pastor Tim Burt
I bumped into an old friend I hadn’t seen for some time. Neither of us was in a hurry so we sat and chatted a bit to catch up. As the conversation moved over to talking about the Lord, he said, Man, I feel lost and confused right now! He asked me if I had ever felt that way. I told him Yes! I think we’ve all experienced that feeling at some point in our Christian walk!
When I first gave my life to the Lord, I moved in and out of that feeling. I felt so inadequate and unworthy of God’s love. I was taught growing up that I had to earn God’s love through good behavior and attitude. I figured I was a lost cause because, in my own mind, I never measured up to that. It actually led me to walk away from anything to do with God for a few years. When I finally gave my life to Jesus and became a Christian, I learned that it wasn’t about earning His love at all. I learned that His love, forgiveness, and eternal life were a gift! But, even so, I still felt like a disappointment to Him at times. I was still dealing with thoughts and behaviors that I knew in my heart, weren’t pleasing to Him. I wasn’t sure how to get to this place I heard preached—the perfect will of God for my life. I only knew that I wasn’t where I needed to be. I was saved but still felt somewhat astray from God.
Every human being has gone astray. Isaiah 53:6 NIV says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…”
Every person, regardless of whether they’ll admit it or not, has gone astray. And they have experienced the feeling of being astray from God at some point in their life. The first step to removing yourself from that feeling is accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Not everyone knows that they need Jesus but they do know they’ve gone through times of feeling lost or astray. It’s a feeling that no one likes. That’s why people try to rid themselves of it. We’ve heard the expression of people trying to fill the void in their life. That void is from not knowing their Maker intimately, and not understanding the purpose of their life. It’s that, and wandering from God that causes us to have deep inner feelings of being astray.
People work hard to rid themselves of that feeling. They go through seasons of experimentation to remove that feeling. Some try to cover it with alcohol and others with drugs or both. Some try to reinvent themself with a change of personal identity—piercings or unusual haircuts, or tattoos, or hair colors. Some with styles of clothing that relate to the lifestyle of a niche of people they relate to and want to become like. Some through music. Others through a career change or the pursuit of advancement. Some try by changing their surroundings. Some try to change their sexual orientation thinking it’s the answer to why they don’t fit in. Others jump into sexual relationships with little or no commitment. Some people try to fill their void through constant shopping while others over-eat. Some fill their life with healthy habits of fitness to find other ways to feel good about themselves. Over time, this feeling of not fitting in and being astray from God’s love can lead to serious mental health issues if they don’t come to truly learn of Jesus and His love for them!
All of these things can mask the feeling of being astray for a season, but the feeling will always come back. This feeling can only be dealt with by aligning your life and purpose with the path of life that God has destined for you. When you finally do that and live it wholeheartedly, then the feeling goes away.
I said that I still had that feeling of being astray after I had received Jesus as my personal Savior and it’s true. I did! I knew I was finally getting on the right track but also knew the Holy Spirit was leading me to make serious and necessary changes in my life that I still sometimes resisted for fear of failure or fear of the unknown. I didn’t know where God was leading me and didn’t know Him intimately enough at that point to realize I could completely abandon myself to His trust.
In the years to come, I learned to trust the Lord and His Word. Because I did, I yielded more and more to the direction I felt He was leading me. And that is when I experienced real personal transformation! I came to understand that trusting God is the enabling power of the Holy Spirit within us. Trust is what makes following the instruction of God’s Word becomes easy. It’s like when Abraham had to leave his home and follow God’s leading to a new home and purpose. Because Abraham trusted God and followed after Him, his life became aligned with what God wanted to do through Him. God established a covenant with Abraham that promised mind-boggling blessings through faith to him and his heirs for all generations. Those promises to Abraham still reach into our lives today. They are our inheritance through faith. as we see in Galatians 3:29 (NLT)sd. It says, “And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.”
Life is full of distractions that seem to continuously try to pull us away from God. God compares us to sheep and reminds us that sheep have a tendency to wander and go astray. Because I understand that, I purpose to stay close to God. I don’t question His love. My feelings have nothing to do with His love. He loves me—end of story! I make my feelings align with that unchangeable truth! I know that staying close to Him creates joy and excitement in my life that is unparalleled to anything this world has to offer. If I begin to wander from Him, it doesn’t take long for those feelings of being astray to surface. If I do wander, what do I do? I simply cry out to God, Help me Father, I feel like I am astray from you and where you want me to be. I’ve been drifting toward my will instead of yours. Please forgive me and help me draw back to you!
I know by faith that He desires to lead me back into His perfect will. I cooperate by spending more time in His word and in prayer, praising and thanking Him. I spend more time with other Christians. I make sure I am at church and serving those in my church and daily life. I know all these things help me draw closer to the Lord and get me back on track with Him! And it feels so good! And that is what I shared with my friend! And I could see the smile grow in his heart and on his face. He was having an encounter with God through me. God always finds a way to talk to us when our heart is seeking Him! We didn’t just bump into each other. God arranged it!
Be blessed in knowing this simple but profound truth! If you get off track somewhere, you can be absolutely confident He will lead you back on track if you will cry out to Him from a sincere heart, and then yield to Him.
Psalms 119:35 (NLT) “Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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