By Adeyinka Shittu
“We’ll keep on falling down unless we fall in Love,” I tell him while it rains cats and dogs outside. (We’re in our room watching ‘The Hobbit’)
He (the young, fly, saved Christian) responds with laughter from the core of his being. His laughter is a mixture of water-walking faith and crippling fear that shakes the bed we’re laying on to its joints.
I have laughed that Sarah laugh before too.
“It just won’t work. I’ve tried you know?” He turns his face to me as he says it. “It’s like the urge is too strong, the sin is too powerful and speaking in tongues out loud and rebuking the devil doesn’t work anymore.”
“I can deal with the withdrawal symptoms but I can’t deal with the accusatory looks from the people who are supposed to be my friends.”
When I led him to believe the gospel story, he was all faith. Now, he doesn’t seem to believe much anymore. Struggling with an addiction that won’t go away and a church that hands out more rules than bulletins has drained the strength from his veins.
Now he doesn’t believe that God has plans for him or that death is already dead to him. All that stuff is lies and folly now because he listens to the whisper in the darkness and the lies disguised as truth too often.
When we stop stilling our souls to listen for the small voice, we eventually get swamped by the million voices in the world.
I fear for his soul. I’ve already tried to drown the whispered lies by shouting truth but then, nobody can take away anybody’s fears because fear is a choice.
Fear and doubt will assail but it is the heart by itself that determines in what direction it will sail.
The room goes quiet but I hear the sounds in his heart. I hear the slap of wet cement against brick as he builds a fortress to wall out truth. I can also hear the pitter-patter of rain drops (outside) threatening to flood this faith built on solid rock.
I want to hold my head in my hands and let out a blood curdling scream.
When will he get it? When will he find that having faith is not synonymous to having all the answers? When will he realize that the problem is not sin but love? The problem has never been that we don’t want to stop sinning. The problem is we don’t love our spirits enough to stop displeasing God.
A bomb goes off in the background. I hit the pause button on the movie we’re watching because it’s sharing his heart and attention.
That’s what the world and everything in it tries to do.
The world steals our eyes first by luring us with perfectly made up lies then it steals our hearts with cheap, pathetic excuses for Love.
“I know you’ve tried but I think you should try a different method,” I say.
“What method is that?” He throws off the blankets, turns off the light and gets back in bed. (We’re roommates, don’t get any ideas.)
“I think you should try backsliding.”
By the moonlight from the transparent curtain, I see his surprise.
“Are you crazy?”
“No, not yet but I really think you should give it a try.”
“You’re the worst Christian ever.” He says pulling the duvet to chin.
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
I know from personal experience that walking away from God is the easiest way to walk back to him. Once we have tasted and seen that God is good and all is grace, it doesn’t matter how hard we run or far we fall, we always land on grace and crawl back to God.
Deep down, the prodigal in us knows he’ll go back home someday.
Besides, backsliding isn’t some straight route that leads to hell.It’s a bus that follows a 365 degree route that gets us back to the Father. (Don’t believe me? Read the Prodigal Story.)
I also know that our Shepherd Father is all-consuming fire of rabid love. He will not relent and He will not stop until we are back in the safety of his sheep-pen.
“Good night Yinka.”
While he safely snores, I get out of the cramped bed and ask God to flood his soul with hunger.
Unquenchable thirst and insatiable hunger for more of God is the antidote to the magnetic pull of sin.
Unless we come to God with a thirsting that drives away our hunger for the fleeting passions of this world, the world can still satisfy us. As long as satisfaction is still available in the world to us, temptation and caving into the quicksand of sin becomes unavoidable.
The problem isn’t the presence of sin; it’s the absence of love.
Unless you fall in love with Jesus, you end up having an affair with the world.
Unless you look back at the Sodom God saved you from, you might never fully become salt of the earth.
Unless you backslide and backtrack and stop seeing grace through familiar eyes, you might not realize that life outside Jesus is joyless and pleasure sought outside the Paraclete is pain.
A few weeks pass and its movie night again. This time we go to the cinema in search of a good time and a good movie which we find after perusing the brochure.
We get our tickets, and our drinks (what’s a movie without Pepsi?) and then sit through the first showing of Jupiter Ascending. We come out quoting lines and criticizing actors and then we hail a cab back to the disheveled mess we call home.
I’m removing my socks when I hear his voice behind me.
“It’s all just meaningless.”
“Life you know?” He throws his shirt at me as he says it. I catch the shirt and cast it in the laundry basket
“No, I don’t know.”
Exasperated, he exhales.
It’s a lie. I do know. I know how it feels to think that life is meaningless.
I know that our hungry souls will always reach out to whatever we think can fill us up. I know that we will keep faltering, keep stumbling and keep falling until we fall in Love.
“That backsliding thing you mentioned? I tried it.”
I struggle to keep a straight face.
“At first, filling my spare hours with pleasure of EVERY kind seemed to do the trick but then I found a hole that couldn’t be filled with food or video games or girls. Now, this hole is taking me over, its draining me and it’s like all life is meaningless if this void isn’t filled. You know what I mean don’t you?”
I do. I know that we will find holes in our souls if we do not seek wholeness in God who is Love. I know there’s a God-shaped hole in all of us. No round peg or square pin can fit in this hole. Only God can. Only Love can.
Only God can hover on the face of the voids in us and bring life. Only God can satisfy. Nothing else can. Not booze or broads. Not full barns or full stomachs. Just God. Just God.
“Life is meaningless because you haven’t found meaning in the one who is Life.” I tell him.
It’s in Christ that we live; it’s in Him that we move; it’s in Him that we find meaning.
Life will continue to be a mystery until we get the joke (which is the gospel) and laugh along with the great cloud of witnesses. Life will be empty until we fill the hole in our souls with God and the space in our hearts with Love.
We will keep falling into temptation if we do not fall into the arms of Love