Matt Chandler is one of the better-known Christian communicators today, and does an excellent job of answering the question of, “What do I do when I don’t feel God moving?”
I can’t really say how many times I’ve been asked a variation of this question, but the reality is, nearly all of us struggle at one point or another with our relationship with the Lord, and this kind of distance almost always manifests in a sense of spiritual boredom, callousness, or staleness. Many Christians struggle to find a spark to restart the fellowship they once had with the Lord. Others simply assume that the Lord has forgotten them altogether. But the truth is, sometimes we simply have to stir our affections. At other times, the method we are using to stir our affections is the very thing that is failing us.
I was recently asked this question, “Is it bad if I only read the Bible when I want to be closer to Jesus?”
At first, I’ll admit, I didn’t quite understand what my student meant, but as she described her Bible reading pattern, it began to make sense. She perceived that she was only reading the Bible to satisfy some vague sense of spiritual sluggishness. She wasn’t particularly interested in the content, nor was she all that concerned with fellowshipping with the Lord in the process, she simply wanted to, “Catch the spiritual feels…”
My encouragement to her was as simple as I could muster. I encouraged her to take an additional step before she read her Bible. I encouraged her to speak to the Lord as though he were present with her in the room, and ask that the Holy Spirit would focus her heart on the character and nature of the Lord God while she read.
I tried to open her eyes to the fact that she was speaking to the Living God, and reading the story of that Living God. I wanted her to see that the words on the page, the feeling of obedience, and even the fellowship with the Lord, if pursued as ends in themselves, can become idolatrous. I wanted her to connect with the Holy Spirit as a pursuit of God, not a pursuit of the warm fuzzy feelings we get at camp…
The last thing I encouraged her to do is to be willing to stop and ask questions.
I think it’s silly that Christians seem to have such a fundamental problem admitting that we don’t know everything about the Bible, but in the case of one of my High School Students, I hoped that she would see that the Holy Spirit is willing to teach us as we read.
I encouraged her to read until she misunderstood, then stop and ask the Lord to guide her. Then, start reading again.
When we acknowledge the Lord’s leadership inside our pursuit of Him, we recognize our limitation and deepen our dependence on Him. Now, He becomes both the means and the end.