There was a point in time when my wife Kathi and I were not talking to each other very much. We had a problem in our family that we didn’t know how to solve and instead of getting help, I became angry with her because I didn’t know what else to do. She was upset with me and we rapidly drifted apart. All we did was talk about which kid needed to be where and when they needed to be there. I lived my life and she lived hers. Quickly I realized we were functioning like roommates and not a married couple. I looked in the mirror one morning and thought to myself “How did we get here?”
Have you ever been in a bad relationship and asked yourself “How did I get here?” Have you ever found yourself ten years into a job that you hate, asking “How did I get here?” Have you ever felt like your relationship with God was non-existent and asked yourself “How did I get here?”
If so, you are not alone. Some of the greatest biblical heroes had moments when they felt lost. The Bible tells us that David had an affair with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed. He must have wondered “How did I get here?” Abraham gave away his wife to a pagan king. At some point he must have wondered “How did I get here?” After living a life of opulence and killing an Egyptian, Moses became a shepherd with almost no interaction with other people. At some point while tending to his flock in the middle of nowhere, he must have asked himself “How did I get here?” Yet in spite of their failures, God used them.
The book of Judges describes the life and times of Israel and its spiritual leaders, called Judges, after they moved into the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership. Joshua was an excellent leader and the people who followed him were faithful to God. His armies were victorious because they put God first and did what God told them to do. Because they honored God, God was their guide and protector. Then Joshua died. As soon as their faithful leader died, the people stopped worshipping God and from that point life went downhill. Every battle the Israelites fought they lost. Their homes were plundered and many of them were sold as slaves. It was a drastic turnaround from what they had known - their good life in the good land had gone bad very quickly. At some point they must have wondered “How did we get here?”
After realizing how far they had drifted from God, they would cry out to Him, then God would send a judge to help. The Lord would send another judge who would guide the people and provide leadership. God didn’t give them a king because he wanted to be their king. God is the Lord of lords and King of kings. This is why he appointed judges to lead the people instead of a king. But as soon as the judge died, the people strayed away from God.
This happened with Joshua, then with the judge Othniel, and with the judge Ehud. While they were alive and leading, the people thrived. As soon as they died, the people drifted. This pattern was consistent throughout the entire book. It was a cycle of sin, bondage, repentance, devotion, followed by sin and bondage again.
“18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.” Judges 2:18-20
Even though God's people were living in God's Promised Land, they wound up wandering in the corn field far from God. They were not living like spiritual people. They may have been physically where God wanted them to be but their hearts were still in the wrong place. This is what caused all the problems.
Even the greatest people can lose focus and wind up far from God. If it could happen to God’s people who lived in the Promised Land, it can happen to God’s people who fill the church. The question is, how long will it take for you to cry out to God? Will it take a marriage crisis? A health crisis? A financial crisis? God does not create all the crisis that we have, but he can and will use them to develop a greater dependency upon him.
Here is the key, if you find yourself in a place you should not be, don’t keep going in that direction expecting things to change. Stop and seek God. Ask him for wisdom and guidance. Ask him for strength. Don’t wait twenty years like the Israelites. Don’t get hung up on guilt, shame, and regrets wondering how you got where you are. Just focus on going to where God wants you to be.
When God’s people cry out, God becomes present. He shows up with peace, with grace, with love, and with direction. Job endured some of the worst trials anyone could ever imagine and toward the end of his life he said “God has delivered me from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.” Job 33:28
Most people stray from God so gradually that they don’t even realize how far away they are. We need to be tenacious and intentional about growing closer to Christ every day so you will be less likely to gradually slip away from him. The Israelites were forced to ask “How did I get here?” only after being forced into slavery and having their homes plundered and once their lives became miserable, they finally cried out to God for help. That is why believers should be tenacious about growing closer to Christ every single day so they don’t wind up wandering somewhere out in the corn field asking “how did I get here?” Stay connected to Christ and keep growing closer to Him one day and one decision at a time.