Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Blog

Share your stories and ideas with the network as you respond to crisis and disaster.

Feb 05
2010
Steve Wyatt

Maybe you need a good, old-fashioned crisis!

Posted by: Steve Wyatt

Tagged in: Untagged 

PrintPDF

"You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water."

Believers who have expressed such sentiments and who have experienced the agonizing, almost lustful angst of eagerly longing after God - you know: There is no joy quite like the joy you feel whenever you drink from God's well.
 
Augustine maintained that connecting with God is "sweeter than all pleasure."
 
Spurgeon called it, "my greatest delight."
 
And remember how Luther put it?  "I wish to devote my life...to you."
 
"Except when you don't...because sometimes you won't."
 
Like it or not, Seuss nailed it when he wrote: "Bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you."  
And seasons will also happen when, whether you want it to be this way or not, you lack what the Apostle Paul said you should never lack.   
"Zeal."
 
Remember how he urged us to "keep [our] spiritual fervor"? 2  
But the question is...how?  How do you keep your edge - spiritually speaking?  How do you stir up that holy discontent that keeps driving you to thirst after God?
 
You may wish you hadn't asked.
 
By far, the best way I know to re-ignite your spiritual passion is to have the bottom drop completely out of your life.
 
It's true:  There is nothing quite like a good financial downturn or a relational crisis or a well-timed visit to ICU to shake you out of your spiritual doldrums and kick-start you into a renewed {maybe completely reinvigorating} pursuit for God!
 
And that's why I don't worry about people who are currently going through some crisis.  I pray for them and try to do whatever I can to help sustain them.  But I DON'T worry about them.  

But when life is going WELL?  That's when I worry.  'Cause that's when our spiritual passions tend to wane.  When life is good, we lock our spiritual passions in cruise control.  We stick our pudgy thumbs under our suspenders and strut.   
But when life turns sour?  We hit our knees our again, we reach for the good Book again and we find ourselves in a passionate pursuit for God...again.
 
So...if you've been wishing your old-heart-for-God was still ticking like it used to?  Maybe that's what needs to happen.  Maybe you need a good, old-fashioned crisis!
 
That said, and since I highly doubt that you will choose that path as your way back, I offer for your review the following suggestions.  None of which are nearly as effective as some major life-interrupting crisis, but they certainly are less painful.
 
DON'T STOP THINKING ABOUT TOMORROW   


The cause of many a spiritual "recession" is guilt for past failure or regret because you zigged when you should've zagged.  

I recently spent some time when a life-long friend.  He's really beat up right now.  By his own admission, he's made some mistakes.  But he has also been publicly accused of stuff he didn't do.
 
His livelihood, his career, his family - everything about him is in jeopardy.  
Yet, when I spoke with him, my friend was envisioning his future!
 
And not a future of angry rebellion against God, either.  In fact, I love how he put it: "I've come to love God even more through this heartache.  God's CHILDREN, however, are another matter!"
 
I get that.   

But what stirred my heart was his passion for becoming a better man, a better pastor and a better husband than ever before in his life!  In fact, I found myself wishing I could be more like my friend!
 
It's not where you've been that matters.  It's where you're headed.  The past is done; you can't do anything to change your yesterday, no matter how passionately you wish you could.   

But you CAN do something about and your tomorrows.  And Paul said that's what you MUST do:  "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on!" 3  
And my good friend, although bruised and bleeding, is nevertheless also stretching!  And I could just sense the embers glowing in his belly. 

 
RECALIBRATE YOUR BALANCE
 
If you're drifting into spiritual doldrums, maybe you need to disrupt your routine.   
I enthusiastically ascribe to this formula:
 
A change of Place + A change of Pace = A change of Perspective
 
It's so easy to get into a rhythm.  Now sometimes, getting into a rhythm means you're hitting your groove.  But other times?  It means you've fallen into a rut.   
So shake it up!  Don't allow your schedule to become a closed system.  If you exercise your physical muscles the same way every time you work out, you are minimizing the progress you could otherwise make.  The same is true with spiritual muscles.   
Maybe you need to take a 24-hour retreat, all alone, to the mountains.  Or the beach.   
Maybe you need to take a bike ride or go fishing or steal away with your wife to some inexpensive hideaway or do a matinee.  
Or maybe you need to find somebody that could use your help!  When you're slogging through spiritual ditches, sometimes serving the other guy is the very best thing you can do!
 
So stop whining and start serving.  

Do something really cool for your mate without wondering what she might do in return.   
Volunteer for some thankless, behind-the-scenes assignment.
 
Or pray more for somebody else than you pray about you.
 
It doesn't really matter WHAT you do - but do something!

GET A WIN UNDER YOUR BELT
 
I used to have a really roller-coaster spiritual life.  And one reason for all my "downturns" is that I set a ridiculously unattainable standards for myself.  I was determined to spend 30 minutes in Bible study plus another 30 minutes in prayer - every single day!  

Now that's not a BAD goal.  Except I'm such a perfectionist that whenever I'd miss a day?  I'd feel so guilty that I would pummel myself with all kinds of ugly rebukes.  

But all that guilt made it even harder for me to climb back into the ring next time.   
That's when I'd turn around and realize - a whole week had passed me by.  And virtually none of that time was spent with God.
 
But I've finally learned that I need to cut myself some slack.  After all, every relationship has some kind of rhythm - including my relationship with God.   
So rather than concentrate on my losses - and rather than study game film on what I SHOULD have done differently - I spend my energy on getting a quick win.

How do I do that?   

Whenever my personal study feels parched?  I go to the wisdom literature and read five Psalms and one chapter from Proverbs every day for a month.  By the end of that month, I've gone through both books.  But more important, those books have gotten through to me.   
I read Psalms because David knew the angst I also feel.  He thirsted for God, yet also struggled mightily in his relationship with God.  And he was terrifically honest about that.   
And I read Proverbs because I invariably pick up some one-liner that informs my unfolding day and how I am to behave.
 
Now sometimes my win comes from a Psalm and other times it's from a Proverb - but I always come away with a win!  And each succeeding win stokes my passion for yet another win.  And another, and another.
 
When my prayer life starts feeling dull, I've learned to pick my poison.  I choose some major need that requires God's intervention and I passionately pray for that ONE thing.   
It never fails - whether answer is yes, no or wait - God's answer always comes.   Sometimes, through prayer, God changes my circumstances.  Other times?  He changes me!  But either way, my heart is stirred - and all those slumbering spiritual juices start flowing again!
 
Does anybody think Atlanta Mayor Sonny Perdue is going to doubt the power of prayer any time soon?  Okay, maybe those initial rains didn't immediately end Georgia's drought, but you just got to know - with a win like that?  Mayor Perdue isn't going to lose his thirst anytime soon.  

STAY IN YOUR SWEET SPOT
 
I believe God has gifted every believer for effective ministry in the Body.  The problem is, many believers operate outside their giftings and then wonder why their hearts become so dry.   

Why do believers migrate away from their primary ministry gifts?  Sometimes it's because pastors successfully manipulate them into doing something HE wants them to do, not what God has gifted them to do.
 
Others swerve from their strengths because of a perceived need - maybe even their own ego-need.
 
I recently asked a friend to consider becoming an elder in our church.  He was honored by my request and invested several hours in a series of meetings that would culminate in his selection.  But at the end of those sessions, he declined my invitation as follows:  I am not an administrative person who can sit for hours discussing issues that I really have no knowledge of or care to have knowledge of.  I am a hands on person that loves to pray with people, encourage people, spend time with people... NOT issues.   

This was re-enforced to me as I attended the meetings and as God spoke to my heart.  I would be going against everything God has taught me and made of me if I were to be on the board as an Elder.

And my friend really IS a powerful prayer warrior.  And if he ever had to cut back his "knee-time" in order to do "elder-stuff", our church would be the poorer because of it.   
And he, by his own admission, would lose his spiritual edge.
 
So ask yourself, "What lights a fire in my belly?  What do I do, and then, when I walk away having fully invested myself - I FEEL TOTALLY AND ENTIRELY ENERGIZED?"
 
Ask and answer that question - and then do it, and your spiritual vitality will likely return.  Life is too short and ministry is too challenging to try to be two people.  Instead, choose to be disliked for who you are rather than to be loved for someone you are not.   
There you have it: Four simple suggestions to get your juices flowing again.  Five...if you care to count that "bottom dropping out" approach.   

So, if you've misplaced your zeal, pick one and go for it. 


Leave a comment

Loading...