O God, The Eternal All, help me to know that
all things are shadows, but Thou art substance,
all things are quicksands, but Thou art mountain,
all things are shifting, but Thou art anchor,
all things are ignorance, but Thou art wisdom.

The Valley of Vision:  A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
Arthur G. Bennett, Editor

I've felt distant from God lately. Ughhh … not again.

But spending time in shadows and quicksands can do that to you. They can make you feel stuck and lost. But I don't always know that I'm in a place that's shifting or that I'm spending my time on that which is ignorant … until I start paying attention to my condition. 

Recently a friend mentioned how Scripture was coming alive to her and how she was enjoying digging in the Word during this season of her life. When I heard that, I realized that I hadn't felt that way in quite a while. Where is the joy of my salvation? And why am I not finding peace in my life right now?

The answers are this: I've been spending my time elsewhere and not looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. I've been in places, in activities and in thoughts that are keeping me away from the light and keeping me mired in entanglements.

But what are or easily can be the shadows and quicksands in my life? I'll start with what I can see: family, home, job, hobbies, possessions, church, ministry opportunities, social activities, volunteering, and so forth. And then there is that which is unseen: hopes, dreams, obsessions, idols, jealousies, insecurities, anxieties—to name just a few. 

It is so easy to get "stuck" in these types of things. They suddenly become our whole world. And sometimes what are blessings or good things in our lives can quickly become something which we mishandle or view in unhealthy ways. Not everything is inherently wrong in and of itself. But it is how we approach what is in our lives, how we prioritize, and how our perspectives can keep us away from knowing and focusing on what the puritan prayer so eloquently stated:

But Thou art substance …  but Thou art mountain … but Thou art anchor … but Thou art wisdom.

It's a slippery slope into shadows and quicksands, but God's Word gives me footholds and that which I can cling to when my feet give way.

I think David must have felt the same way as he struggled in his faith walk, too, in Psalms 25:1:

Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long … Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way … For the sake of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him … My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare.

So where is your focus today? Are you stuck in the quicksands of your career? Or are you living in the shadows of whether or not your children will do well in school this year? Maybe you're mired in the drama of a relationship or you're lost in the dashing of a dream you hoped would come true. 

Remember, you don't have to stay in shadows and quicksands. You can be moved. And you can be delivered. 

Intersecting Faith & Life:

Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. In the first column, list out the words that exemplify the very nature of God. And in the second column, record what is going on in your life right now (people, situations, struggles, achievements, thoughts, dreams, etc.). Which column ultimately brings you more joy, more peace and more focus? And which contains that which is leading you astray or blocking your humility and surrender to the Lord? 

Further Reading:

Micah 6:8

Matthew 7:24

Hebrews 12:1


**Listen to the audio/podcast version of this devotional here.