Last week I threw out some suggestions of why we rarely experience long term change even though we really mean it when we declare our resolve to start something, stop something, do more, do less, and change.
1. Sometimes our goals aren’t big enough.
2. We often don’t have a plan.
3. No one has been invited to walk with us on our journey.
4. We resist admitting that the power to change is beyond us.
This week I want to zero in on the area of spiritual transformation.
One of the things I miss about pastoring is being able to stand in front of a group of people and assure them that no matter where they are or what they are experiencing God is near, concerned, and accessible. To be part of God’s awakening process is both thrilling and humbling. I know…Sunday sermons aren’t the only vehicles that God uses…in fact I’m sure he’s had to intercept what came out of my mouth way more than once. But I have vivid memories of people encountering hope. Often times their eyes water, their cheeks redden, their posture changes, and they nod unknowingly.
The message informs, excites, and moves us toward the mission (the identity and calling) God has for us. Naturally we get excited. We might even get a new Bible or buy a new journal. And for a few weeks we do great. Sermons and podcasts keep us going. Our small group or Sunday school class keep us on track. And for a few more weeks we do alright. We’re doing things…good things…things we’re supposed to do…but if we’re really honest it feels like we’ve just exchanged one type of busyness for another.
And in our quiet honest moments we hear ourselves wonder, “Where is the life? Where is the joy? Where is the change?”
Do you ever feel like that? I do sometimes.
The answer is not: Leave your church, drop out of small group and put your Bible on the shelf.
The answer may be: Try something different. Take a few minutes and jot down answers the questions below. It is a brief experience in spiritual direction.
– Describe your communication with God. How and when are you speaking to him? How are you hearing from him?
– Describe the last time you felt close with God. Be sure to note when that was, where you were, and who, if anyone, was with you.
– If Jesus was sitting in the chair next to you, what would you tell him?
The Enlightenment period emphasized science and reason. Humanity began to seek answers by pulling things apart, observation, and examination. The scientific method was born and applied to all areas of life – including faith. So the spiritual life that once lived in the healthy tension between heart and head shifted mostly into our head.
In our desire for transformation, our head has been trained to take over and we default to persuing more information and mastering certain skills as the answer. “If I only knew more about the bible…or better understood what Christianity is about…or could explain it better…that would help me grow and be the evidence that I’m changing.” Not true.
Author Dallas Willard said, “Spiritual people are not those who engage in certain spiritual practices; they are those who draw their life from a conversational relationship with God.” (Hearing God)
Our process for spiritual growth must bring our thinking and feeling back into a proper tension. Spiritual direction helps reconnect your head to your heart and reframes your thinking. Our perspective ceases to be, “I need to learn more,” and becomes, “I need to pay attention more.”