I was right. It totally was. Its funny though. I expected to learn something both times I committed myself to a long period of prayer, but both times I learned something completely different from what I thought I would.
Honestly, this time around I really thought I was going to learn what it felt like to be radically transformed. I thought perhaps a long period of intensive prayer would push me over the edge into new territory of life with God. If I am completely honest with myself, I thought maybe it would be a magic bullet for leap in my own sanctification.
Instead, God taught me that the whole idea of a magic bullet for sanctification was a pretty stupid idea.
Somewhere in the middle of the summer thing began to get really hard for me spiritually. I was constantly under attack. I was spiritually exhausted. I was lethargic and unmotivated. I was sick of fighting temptation, sick of trying to be holy, sick of pressing on and on and on for what felt like an interminable amount of time. So naturally I started complaining to God.
"Why are you making me go through this?"
"Why does this have to be this way?"
"Why can't I just be done?"
"I am so tired. Can't you just make all of this go away?"
And then the Holy Spirit smacked me over the head. And God said, "You have been praying these past months, everyday, for me to crucify you... and you expected the road to that death of self to be any easier than the one my Son walked? Of course the way is hard. Of course the way is trying. The way of the cross if full of suffering and hardship and persecution and death. What did you expect?"
And suddenly everything over this past year and half snapped into clarity. This has been my struggle. This has been Satan's attack on me. It has been on my endurance. Sure that trying and testing may come through various different means, but the goal was all the same: to whittle away my endurance. To make me give up.
For the past year and half God has been trying to teach me that following after him is not easy. That sanctification is not easy. That I need to acquiesce not only to the death of self, but also to the way that death will come about. I have to march knowingly to my own death, knowing that to say those words means more than to simply spout some Christian metaphor for sanctification. I have to march to my own death knowing that it will not be easy or instant, but will be long and grueling and trying and exhausting. I have to agree, not only to let God change me, but also to the way he will change me: this rocky, whirling, twisting, turning, suffering, fiery, refining, trying, awesome, joyful, painful, tiring, full, empty, broken, hopeful thing we call LIFE.