Back in the 70's and 80's I ambitiously veered onto the "highway" of Bible study, teaching and preaching--captivated by it. My favorite verse was 2Timothy 2:15: "Study to show yourself approved unto God." I did that, consumed with conviction that there was no better way to become spiritually mature. But then... I discovered more.
I took a long and diligent detour at the "school" of prayer, enrolling with abandon for ALL the "classes." In a single year I read fifteen books on prayer, including some of the great classics by Andrew Murray, E.M. Bounds and George Muller. I marveled at their faith, convinced that someday I'd be as spiritually mature as they. But then... I discovered more.
I became infatuated with the Holy Spirit. I read everything, attended everything, explored everything and did everything one could possibly do to be Spirit-filled, certain that this was the supreme pathway to spiritual maturity. But then... I discovered more.
I learned about spiritual warfare. I learned about principalities and powers and spiritual forces in the heavenly realms, and how to exert my authority in Christ over demonic intrusions and attacks. "Surely," I thought, "This is spiritual maturity.
Regrettably, after nearly thirty-plus exhausting years and a myriad of well-intentioned pursuits, I reached the end of myself...the end of my own best efforts... none of which had enabled me to know Christ as I'd desired. I was totally confused. How could I have missed the only intimate relationship that I ever desired?
Then...it happened. One day I was taking a spiritual stroll in my mind, and noticed another place...a place I'd passed on multiple occasions on my many previous journeys. I'd peeked in a few times, but never entered, always opting to hurry on to more "important" things. "No time for frivolous explorations. Nope, not me," I reasoned.
But this time, desperate as I was, I nervously, tentatively... ventured in. Such a spacious place! Such an exquisitely beautiful place, replete with sparkling streams and majestic trees, leaves continuously rustled by cool, gentle breezes. Out ahead of me I saw a vast plateau, dotted with tens of thousands of wildflowers; breathtakingly beautiful.
Suddenly, there in the distance, centered amidst nature's carpet of flowers, I spotted a solitary figure, hunched over, face to his knees. Trepidatiously I moved forward, keenly intrigued. When I was within a few dozen feet, the "figure" raised His head, fixed His gaze on me...and smiled. It was Jesus.
"I've been waiting for you, Gary," He said, "a long, long time. Sit down. Relax awhile. You can learn so much here."
"Lord, if I'd known You were here, I certainly would've come sooner," I replied. "What is this place?"
"Welcome to the Land of Simplicity, Gary," he said, "I live here."
"What? But Lord, what about the Bible study and prayer and teaching and learning...and the Holy Spirit and Spiritual warfare and all the rest?" I asked.
"All important," He replied, "but not nearly as important as what you'll learn here."
"And what's that?" I eagerly implored.
"How to be alone...with me." As he uttered those words, I noticed a solitary tear drip from His eye.
Suddenly...for the first time...I understood. I've never been the same since.