The last week and a half I’ve had some “spiritual sickness.” A dryness in my throat instead of streams of living water; heart arrythmia instead of a strong heart united with Christ; a ragged body bearing poor fruit failing to live up to the promise that a good tree bears only good fruit– it cannot bear bad fruit.
My brief time in the scriptures had been good, and I came here to meditate further on what I’d read. I don’t want this to be another time in my life that I look back on shamefully, disappointed with what I did do and didn’t do.
You see, this is a period of dryness in my external circumstances. My wife of one year has moved 6 hours away. 10 days before I will move, she left. She took with her my heart and my passions. Rather than ask the Lord for more passion– passion for him, for life, for friends– I have been happy when talking to her but just existent at other times. I’m not moping around, but there is no visible presence of Jesus Christ in my life beyond the grace of God which persists unfairly in my actions probably because of habit. Sometimes (thankfully) I can’t help but do the right thing. That’s my Wednesday morning 7am definition of sanctification.
But it need not be a time of spiritual dryness. Would the Lord return to me and bless me and reconcile himself to me today? The answer I knew would be yes if I only allowed it to be so! Why did I wait so long? Why, when in other similar times of dryness on the outside I’ve witnessed the same failures rise within me?
The Lord spoke to me an answer the other day when I did open the scriptures:
 Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches,  but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24
Boasting. It’s not a problem. The object of our boasting; that’s the problem. Not in our wisdom, strength, or riches– that’s pride. That’s what I’ve had. It’s not walking around with a sense of superiority, or looking down on others. My pride found itself in the foolish thought that my righteousness this week would be found in the amount of packing and cleaning I got done around our apartment, cultivating an environment of work and busybodiness that left no room for God.
In meditating on this verse this morning, I followed the verse references in my Bible to a few other gems. First, some verses that expounded on the consequences of boasting in the wrong things.
Proverbs 11:28: Whoever trusts in his riches will fall.
Jer 48:7: because you trusted in your works and your treasures, you also shall be taken and… go into exile
Jer 49:4-5: Why do you boast of your valleys… saying, ‘Who will come against me?’ Behold, I will bring terror upon you,
Ezekiel 24:4-7: your heart has become proud in your wealth… therefore, behold, I will bring foreigners upon you
Trusting in your own things leads one to fall, be taken captive, under terror. Because you own heart is proud. The antidote is found in v24 above, boasting about knowing God. Some verses to expand that include:
Psalm 34:2: My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad
Gal 6:14: But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
How do I keep falling in this trap? A really interesting verse in 1 Kings told me what I already knew but failed to remember lately.
And the king of Israel answered, “Tell him, ‘Let not him who straps on his armor boast himself as he who takes it off.’” 1 Kings 20:11
What does this even mean? The ESV study note says
It is unwise to boast about one’s exploits before the battle has even begun; there is time enough for boasting when the battle is won.
That’s my problem. I keep acting like the battle is over. It’s not. On Friday, 5 days in to my time without my wife, a dangerous thought came to me: “I’m doing pretty well.” Instead, that was the sign that I was losing the battle. Lord, help me to boast in you and not in my own strength; remind me that the battle is not yet over.