Jenny has recipes and patterns she has collected over many years. She is sorting out what to keep and what to dump. The best method of storing the patterns and recipes is to insert them into plastic sleeves and place them into A4 Lever Arch Files. That is not too difficult, but what do you do with these files?
Years ago, I had a bookshelf that needed repairs. Due to lack of space, I took it apart and stored the wood. Now, I was going to bring it back out and use it to store the files.
I assembled the bookcase … but it would need to be changed to facilitate the A4 files. I removed nails, sanded, measured for the changes, drilled pilot holes, lined all the wood up for the new shape and then glued and screwed. After working almost all day, I had assembled a new-look bookcase. Once the glue dries, I’ll clean the bookcase to varnish it and then it’ll be ready for the files.
It sounds like this all went rather easily … but why did it take almost all day to do this? Well, after the original bookcase was disassembled and stored, the wood distorted and warped. While reassembling the bookcase, I did not know which shelf was used at the bottom, which was used at the top, etc. I need to ‘fit’ the bookcase together, and in place of a four shelf it became a three shelf.
Take a look at this:
Gal 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
Here’s the picture … you become a believer. You surrender lordship over your heart to the Lord Jesus. You confess your sins, He pardons and saves and the Holy Spirit regenerates you. This means you are born again. You are a new creation. You love the Lord and you start to walk in His paths … which means you dress yourself with the fruits of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. You enjoy your new life, yet after a while you start dismantling the spiritual gains (much like I dismantled the bookcase). Then, slowly, the acts of the sinful nature start to return, “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies” (just like the wood that slowly warped and distorted).
This is spiritual wandering (also called backsliding or going cold). In a nutshell, it’s turning back to the sinful world and away from the ways of the Spirit. Then suddenly, something happens, like Covid-19 or some other health issue, relational failure or financial hiccups, and life starts to fall apart. The Holy Spirit uses these things to convict you of your sinful idolatry in taking focus off Jesus and placing it on something else.
Sometimes people accept this conviction and turn back to God. Sometimes people reject this conviction and drift further and further away from Jesus … and maybe prove they were not born again in the first place.
Those who return to Jesus with the Spirit’s help find that they cannot just step back to where they were spiritually! They almost need to start all over again because it is a heart matter. Trust and faith, dependence and confidence, holiness and godliness need to be developed all over again. It’s like me using the old warped, distorted wood. It took time to clean it up and reshape and reposition the wood so that a perfectly squared and usable bookcase could be presented to Jenny.
The lesson for all of us is that if we have not started to backslide, we need to dig deeper into the spiritual jewelry box (the Bible) and the spiritual petrol station (prayer) to ensure we don’t slowly gravitate away from Jesus.
If you have slipped and stumbled and drifted, come back to Jesus. Return today before it’s too late. You don’t ever want to hear the words from Jesus:
Rev 3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Lord Jesus, by Your Spirit, graciously keep me close to You. Hold me tightly. Let me never stray! Amen.