My relationship with God is my highest priority.
What I should really say is that I want it to be. I want to grow closer to God. I want to have a stronger relationship with Jesus. I want to be overflowing with the Spirit. I can’t say that what I want is what I’m actually doing.
I’m doing what’s urgent rather than what’s important. There are three tiny people in my house who DEMAND my attention, urgently. I have laundry and dishes and dentist appointments and school lunches and they are all incredibly URGENT.
I’m doing what is easy and comfortable. I tell myself it’s because I have young children, and I have so little ease and comfort in my day. I need to snatch up ease and comfort in little tiny bites wherever I can find it! But honestly? Ease and comfort are deceptively easy and comfortable. It’s easy to get distracted. It’s comfortable to return to old habits. It’s easy to spend my down time “vegging out.” It’s comfortable to find rest in a cup of coffee or glass of wine at the end of the day. They all fill me for a moment, taking the sting out of the long hard push toward evening, but they don’t satisfy in the long run. I know this, but still, it’s so easy and comfortable to forget.
I’ve been feeling disconnected from God recently. Well, probably for a while. Not a deep rift, just not close. Just not near and present and tangible. More than anything, I want something different. I want to draw close to Him, to overflow with the fruits of the Spirit.
I don’t want to spend another year just doing the urgent on my own, but rather the eternally significant with Him.
Maybe you’re there, too. Maybe this sounds all too familiar. Maybe you wish that you could put “A Stronger Relationship with Jesus” on your Christmas list and find it wrapped up under the Christmas tree, ready to go for the New Year. If only it were that simple.
It’s difficult to quantify a relationship with Christ. It’s hard to pinpoint what that looks like or how to get there until you’ve arrived. There was a time in college when it was easy, when I had a handle on how to maintain that closeness and what it felt like and looked like, but I’m not in college anymore. I’m not even in my twenties anymore, and I don’t want to spend my 30s and 40s and beyond, idolizing my young adult faith.
I look at older women in my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) group, and I envy them. Such a legacy of faith and faithfulness. I imagine that as an eventuality, “I’ll be so in love with Jesus when I’m older.” I’m not so young and naive to assume that I will have that kind of faith without faithful obedience. I can’t have the closeness with the Lord that I admire in those walking ahead of me without the path they walked.
We all seem to run to the same answers: more prayer, more bible study, more quiet time early in the morning. More things on our to-do list for Jesus, but not releasing any of the rest. Because the dishes need washing and clothes need folding and children need feeding and life just keeps going. We want closeness to God, so we strive to schedule in more Jesus on top of our overwhelm. We add more spiritual boxes to check, and we tell ourselves that He will equip us to do it all. If we put in the time & energy with Him, He’ll somehow, miraculously, give us time & energy for all of the things.
More prayer, more bible study, more early mornings, more tasks for Jesus.
This isn’t all BAD, but it’s not sustainable.
I often approach reconnecting with God like I do weight loss. I don’t just make sensible, sustainable changes. I jump into the deep end. I sign-up for a 6-week boot camp, or a 12-week total body transformation, committing to wake up super early every morning and measure every morsel and jump-start my lifestyle change with intense sacrifice and extreme effort. At the end of that short burst of focus, I see results, but now what? If the only two paces I know are full-on attack mode and meandering without clear direction, all I will know is a life of fits and spurts. A life characterized by wandering off course and then frantically sprinting back toward the right path isn’t what I want. A life where I’m only “doing well” when I’m running on empty trying to accomplish all the things for everyone and Jesus. That just sounds exhausting.
Maybe there’s a better way? Maybe there’s a way to make sustainable, practical changes that keep me on course with God, so I don’t binge on Netflix and lattes when I’m seeking the comfort and peace that only He provides?
I think sustainable spiritual renewal begins with sensible removal.
Removal of time sucking tasks, of people pleasing promises, of too high personal expectations, of culturally acceptable commitments. I think we all subconsciously believe that the people who have these faithful relationships and deep connectedness with Him do this on top of all the things we are also doing. I don’t believe that’s true even for a minute. We can’t keep adding things on top. It’s not about squeezing Jesus into an already over-full life. We can only renew our relationship with Him if we are willing to remove things and make room for Him. Declutter our lives so Jesus can fill in the newly empty space.
That’s where I’m starting anyway. Cleansing my heart and mind and schedule. Clearing out the “important” and “urgent” to make way for the eternally significant. Praying that Jesus will guide me in releasing and then come take residence. A spiritual detox of sorts. (Hopefully, less trips to the bathroom than those OTHER detoxes. Fingers crossed.)