There is this saying currently that I have heard couples use when they are fed up with each other, “we are on a break”, what does that mean? My own interpretation is that they are taking time off from each other to explore other options or maybe to reassess the relationship to see if it has long-lasting potential, or possibly there is another party involved who is causing dissension in the relationship. In facilitating a marriage seminar last year we were given a lot of reasons why the couples were having issues:
So how does taking a break heal relationship issues? Is it reasonable to suggest that the break could drive a further wedge into something that was initially a strain? Let’s talk about our relationship with God. A lot of times we get weary during our walk, some might even say that the relationship gets “old”, eventually we get so busy in our stressful lives, and with our family members or children that we begin to avoid God which translates to a lack of communication. What this can result in is that we end up in a “backslidden” state. Just like a marital relationship can suffer from moral decay, our relationship with God can suffer from spiritual decay; this does not happen over night, but it can be the result of little seeds planted along the way. The word backslide means “to turn away” or “to turn back”.
O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name’s sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee (Jer. 14:7).
Just as in a carnal relationship, backsliders are gradually drawn away from God through wanting to do things our own ways, or the lure of fleshly desires. For instance, someone who puts their trust in the almighty dollar instead of trusting in God has been lured away. Sometimes the state of the backslider is almost undetectable. It will usually start small because satan is deceptive; say for instance that you are a committed prayer warrior, you pray at the same time in the same place every single day. This is your communal time with the Lord. Then out of nowhere you are offered a job that you think is “my blessing”, but the hours are unconventional and overlap the time that you have always spent with God. We will chalk this up to being His will because the job is, again, your blessing! Eventually your prayer life will become less important because your whole schedule will have shifted, something has to give right? Since you believe that God blessed you with that job you believe that God will understand that you have less time for Him. At some point the Holy Spirit will nudge you, and you may become convicted, and then the guilt will set in. One things leads to the next and finally you may end up in a backslidden state.
I remember a time where my best friend was like this in both her relationship with her boyfriend and her relationship with God. It was eerie the parallel between the two. The boyfriend did not want to commit to her, and she did not want to fully commit to God. This young lady was really on fire for Jesus at one time, but she was drawn away by working two full time jobs to support her children, as well as going to school and her friend. She really desired to marry her boyfriend, but he had his own things on the side going on and was not willing to sacrifice them all for her. My friend would occasionally go to church out of guilt, and then eventually quit that altogether as well because she was ashamed; afterward it seemed that her fear of God had departed, and she was blind to her own disheveled spiritual state. So just like her boyfriend, she pushed aside the most important person in her life to satisfy her carnality, and she ended up in a backslidden state, where she remains today. I still pray for her.
Jesus said, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love (Rev. 2:4).
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel (Gal. 1:6).
We may think that we see the outward signs of a backslidden Christian because they profess Christ and are living or acting a certain way, but some who have fallen away do so in heart and not in appearance or actions. 2 Kings tells how the Israelites hid their secret sins (or so they thought) from the Lord:
And the people of Israel did secretly against the Lord their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city (2 Kings 17:9).
Those high places that we think are hidden from God are things like lust, jealousy and bitterness; they eventually will manifest themselves into open sin and rebellion against God. We tend to hide things behind a veneer of religious actions like my friend, she went to church every week, she played gospel music at home and she could rattle off a scripture in a nanosecond; however, over time that high place manifested itself into drinking, cursing and other open sins. Jesus told us that we would know them by their fruit!
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate (Titus 1:16).
Scripture tells us of great men of God who have backslidden in their ways, the most famous probably being David (2 Sam 11:1-5 & Psalms 51, and 61 express this). The Israelites, God’s chosen people were repeated backsliders, Lot, Solomon, even Jesus’ followers Thomas and Peter both departed the faith and returned. Jesus told Simon Peter this:
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren (Luke 22:31-32).
My hope today is that I can in some way through this post strengthen my brother or my sister who may be in a backslidden state; Hosea 14:4, “I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely”. Just like in the parable of the Prodigal Son, God will always meet us halfway. He is not willing that ANY should perish, but that all will come to repentance. Am I my brother’s keeper? Yes, I am, and as such I should also bear his burden.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Gal. 6:1-2).
I will leave you with these last two passages from Jeremiah;
Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings (Jer. 3:22).
But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive (Jer. 13:17).
My old pastor used to say, “God is married to the backslider”, and it used to baffle me because he never expounded on it, but I have come to realize that marriage is a lifelong commitment that joins two people together for better or for worse, so in that sense it is true. God already knows what we will do and the choices that we will make because He created us. We, the bride, are the ones who turn away or backslide, God promised to never leave nor forsake us, and He doesn’t. (2 Chronicles 7:14). Come on home.
A Pastor’s Wife 🙂