Recently a friend was sharing with me that she seemed to be walking through a dry desert in regards to her spiritual walk with God. She said she yearns to be hungry and thirsty for more of Him and to feel excited and joy-filled by His Presence. But instead she is feeling lethargic about things... feelings of anxiety and dread seem to rise up as she approaches her place of worship. She doesn't want to feel this way and she is trying to figure out how and why she ended up in this dry and dark place.
Her comments resonated with me... because too many times I have been in that place. Sometimes it was depression but after some deeper examination what I know is this.
I have learned that during those times of feeling down, discouraged, frustrated or blocked, the first step is to examine my heart and mind.
1. Is there an unconfessed sin in my life that God wishes for me to deal with?
Oh, this is the one I don't like very much. I don't usually have to look very far to find it.... but it still isn't much fun.
2. Is there someone in my life that I might be harboring resentment or unforgiveness towards?
In the past I had a lot of resentment towards several people. And yes, even now I have to admit there are people in my life who I have (had) issues with and I have had to deal with those-- or rather, allow the Holy Spirit to deal with ME in regards to those!! (maybe I will share how that happened in another post)
BUT WHAT IF there doesn't seem to be any unresolved issues that are standing in my way of experiencing all the fullness of JOY that comes from being with Jesus? What then?
I have to say, I don't know why we go through these times of feeling far away or feeling less than joy-filled. It bothers me a lot to realize how complacent about Jesus and my faith I sometimes feel.
Just this past Sunday during the worship service at my church I was impressed with a word or two from the Holy Spirit. It has to do with that adage "Fake it till you make it."
While the Holy Spirit didn't say those words exactly, what He did do was to remind me of some things.
God says for us to have faith. But faith requires action. When Jesus healed people he always issued a command of some sort that required action. When he healed the lame man, he said "Rise up and walk!" and THEN the healing took place as the man obeyed his command.
I can't think of anytime in scripture where Jesus spoke healing and that person waited and watched the healing take place before getting up and doing his thing. It always took place as the person stepped out in faith. He instructed the man with the withered hand to stretch out his hand. I am assuming that a withered hand would have a hard time stretching but the man did it in obedience and faith and as he stretched it the healing happened.
This is what I think God wants us to do in the times of feeling down. First, ask Him to give you more joy. Ask Him, as my friend is doing, to make you hungry and thirsty for more of Him. But then, don't sit and wait for the joy to bubble up inside of you. Start acting joy-full even if you don't feel it.
Because in the action you display your faith that God is gonna honor your request. It is God's desire that we'd want more of Him so this is a request he will not deny. But I believe it does require us to show action.
This past Sunday when I went to church, I didn't feel so great. I had been nursing a sick headache since the day before and I almost stayed home. I also was feeling pretty tired emotionally that morning and the music was too loud and the Pastor was too bubbly and all these people wanted to hug me.... !!!
I was feeling all icky and irritated... and then I felt the Spirit nudge me... and I have learned to honor those nudges otherwise they turn into big shoves... so I responded to the nudge by opening my mouth to sing, raising my hands to praise -- acting in obedience. Yep, the fake it till ya make it.
But here's the great amazing thing: in those action steps, God always meets me!
That's right.... I didn't have to fake it for very long.
You know what I think?? Don't be shocked but I think God likes to dance and He waits for us to take a step and then He steps and then we step together and soon we are waltzing around the room. Maybe we even do the jitterbug or boogie!! Whatever. The point is, faith requires action and if we are asking God to fill us with joy, then we need to start acting like that request has been filled. Show our faith in Him!
Remember good ol' Peter and how he stepped out of the boat to walk on the water with Jesus? He'd never done that before. He didn't know anything about walking on water and how it was done! He just wanted to be with Jesus and so out he leapt. Have you heard this expression (which I love) "If you wanna walk on water, you gotta get outta the boat!
Faith always requires action. Are you struggling with something in your spiritual walk? Examine your heart. Ask for more of Jesus and then get out there and meet Him! And maybe even bring your dancing shoes.