Suffice it to say, I took a few deep breaths, stared into the darkness of the room and asked for forgiveness.
I determined to do better.
I committed to work harder still on my personal relationship with God.
I apologized for my lack of diligence in some areas, when in fact I knew I was capable of more.
Even with asking forgiveness, still I felt bad. Shameful.
When I woke up Wednesday morning I got ready for work and as I was walking out to the car to get in, I grabbed my Bible as I always do on the way to work (Larry drives - while I read the Word each day -- it's my habit, as I don't like to waste a minute of my day, and we have a 15 minute drive both ways during which I can read God's Word).
Before I even opened the Bible, while I still had one hand on the car door and one hand on my Bible, I heard the gentle voice of the Lord say to me, "Did you think I was talking to you last night?"
Instantly I recognized the true voice of the Lord as He said to me, "no, it wasn't me...remember, I come to bring conviction, not condemnation. And if it WAS me, then after you repented you sure wouldn't end up STILL feeling shameful!"
I am reminded of a verse I recently preached on about six months ago, in a series on shame...our key text was:
"Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs." Isaiah 61:7
God comes to cleanse us and release us from shame, not fill us with it.
The other thing I realize is, even after you've known the Lord many years, it's easy to be deceived into thinking you are hearing His voice sometimes when the enemy comes at you masquerading. He is the FATHER OF LIES, and he can put on a good impersonation sometimes and make you think what you are hearing is Godly when in fact it's from the pits of hell! Does it make you feel like a piece of dirt? It's probably not God. Does it make you feel convicted and after you repent you feel like a ton of weight has been lifted off of you? Then it probably is God.
It's not about me "doing better." It's not about me "trying harder". Make no mistake, I'm a huge proponent of spiritual disciplines and I know we need to be holy and we need to prioritize time with God, but with that said -- it's about His grace, not formulas. It's about relationship, not ritual. It's not about how long I was in the Word today versus yesterday. It's not about whether I talked to God for 30 minutes on the bike today or whether I laid on the floor in my office and spoke in my prayer language. God isn't keeping score, He's just delighted to spend time with me. It's like Bob Sorge, author of Secrets of the Secret Place says...when you miss your time with God, He's not mad at you, He's sad for you!
If you're a person like me who was raised in a legalistic atmosphere sometimes it's hard to keep in mind that God isn't up there gleefully waiting to bang you over the head and punish you every five seconds. Just enjoying my walk with him takes work sometimes to strip myself of all those old mindsets.
He spoke to me on my way to work Wedesday morning and let me know, He was not the person talking to me in my bed last Tuesday night. That was the enemy.
The Word says in John 10:27 "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." I've known the Lord for many years and I do know His voice. I follow it day to day and make my everyday and life's decisions based on it. But my point is that the Word says that even the elect can/will be deceived. Satan is a good impersonator and he can pull a fast one even on His faithful servants especially if you are tired and weak or your defenses worn down. It can happen in a minute.