You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? (Gal 5:7)It's a long story to tell about the years leading up to the beginning of what some would call my "walk with Jesus," but suffice it to say that I can't remember a time in life when I was not a believer. Yet I do recall a specific day - January 7, 1992 - when things really changed in my life and I began "running," so to speak.
I was 22 years old, almost 23, and life really did change dramatically. I "quit" doing a lot of the stuff that I used to do and I began intentionally going to an evangelical (pentecostal) church and hanging out with evangelical people. AT FIRST, I ran well. I truthfully felt like there was a literal "halo" around my head! I mean, I knew there wasn't, but the freshness of this new thing the Lord was doing in my life made it feel like heavy weights had been lifted, and my head felt light and happy. I loved the Lord and I naturally (with no one pressuring me to do it) went around sharing this new thing with other people. It was as supernaturally natural as it gets!
But eventually the supernaturally natural life began to fade and I became hindered from obeying the truth. How did this happen? Did I "slip into sin?" Did I go back to my old carousing ways? No, it was nothing like that. What happened is that I began listening to the things that were being taught to me (!) (in church, on Christian radio, etc) and it began penetrating my soul. The result - I began "trying" to live the Christian life that I had begun living without a whole lot of thought about what was right and what was wrong.
See, I knew that the changes in my life were not "of myself." (See this post that I wrote a couple of years ago, about my full understanding that all of this - even my being drawn to God - was by grace alone). As one who had already believed for years, I had previously been through a few "phases" in which I ignorantly thought I could live the Christian life, but there had never been any lasting effects. So by this point, I knew "I" couldn't do it. But this time, it really was different. It was very obvious to me that the Lord was doing something in me that I could not do by myself.
But again, it didn't take long before I began listening to all the teachings about what I'm "supposed" to do as a Christian. I began soaking up all of the "shoulds" and "musts," and all the rules and principles for good, holy Christian living. Eventually the joy and the love faded. I had been "running well," and my Christian life had been a living testimony to the power and life of God in a person. But now, I was hindered from running well, and the problem (although I didn't know it at the time) was that I'd fallen from a supernatural life of grace into a life of rules and law.
What's interesting (and sad) is that the verse above, which is part of a passage in which Paul is trying to help the Galatians go back to grace and freedom and leave behind forever their futile attempts to live by law, was (and still is) actually used in the church to get people like me to see how they were hindered in their walks with Jesus by not following all the supposed rules and laws and principles of good, holy Christian living!
Of course as we look at the entire passage in Galatians, we see that the Galatians had been "running well" because they had died to the law and had trusted solely in the life of Christ in them. But they were hindered from obeying the truth because they went back to trying to be perfected by the law. Paul told them that they had fallen from grace - not because they were sinning but because they were trying to maintain their righteousness by keeping the law! He told them a little leaven (the law) leavens the whole lump.
I found that to be true when my "run" slowed to a very bumpy and unsteady stagger. I had begun with much freedom, and with a trust that it was God's work that He was doing in me but I was now burdened and weary with musts and shoulds.
There is one verse in particular that really helped me along the way, during those years before I came back to grace again. "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it" (Phil 1:6). I was definitely walking a legalistic line, but yet in the midst of all the leaven, grace was working its way back through, and I knew deep inside me that it wasn't up to me - it was up to God. And I knew He'd be faithful to do His work in me. And HE TRULY HAS BEEN!
If you're hindered in your "run" with God - who has hindered you? How did you lose sight of His freedom, love and grace? I encourage you to go back to the deep end of the impossible Christian life that is made light and easy because it's Christ-in-you who is living it, and it's solely God's work in you, not your work for Him!