“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
For years, I tried to have an “close relationship” with Jesus. I studied and knew all the right answers concerning my standing before God. I had consistent “quiet times.” I prayed. I read Scripture. I went to church. I volunteered. I served. I preached. I oversaw a vibrant outreach to 20-30somethings, and loved my wife and children to the best of my ability.
When it came to drawing close to God and knowing Him intimately—I followed all the rules and gave it my best shot. When my “feelings” waned, I pushed through and persevered as long as I could. That is until my life started to crack under the deep performance-based acceptance hidden under the veneer of my "put together" life.
I’m not sure how or when performing for God started to overshadow intimacy with Him, but after years of striving to accomplish both, I found myself frustrated, confused, exhausted, and spiritually bankrupt.
After years of trying to “buck-up,” do more, and pray harder to draw closer to God, my “bucker” finally stopped “bucking”—I had nothing left.
Like a boxer who had fought a good fight, but was too stubborn (or ignorant) to realize his defeat, my spirit (out of pity and fatigue) threw in the towel from the corner of my soul signaling the fight was over—it had seen enough.
With my spiritual clock cleaned, I was drawn into a different season in my relationship with God—a season without rules, without expectations, and without do’s and don’ts. A season where everything about my approach to God was turned upside down and inside-out (don’t worry, this doesn't mean that I adopted a “whatever goes” moral and spiritual lifestyle).
All this lead me to trade in my past understanding of how to approach God and forced me to try something new. I am confident that I’ll be drawn back into many of the wonderful disciplines I mentioned above, but hopefully with a new perspective and heart concerning them.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be outlining the elements I’ve currently traded in and what I have replaced them with. If you (or someone you know) are in a similar spiritual season, I highly encourage you to follow along and give these a try. They are time-tested yet tragically avoided—starting with the first installment tomorrow—”Trading in Sentences for Silence.”
Take a moment and ponder the two questions below. Your soul might be telling you to throw in the towel as well.
1) Does your life with God lift you up or drag you down?
2) Does thinking about God generate joy and lightheartedness or depression and heaviness?
(Questions taken from “Breaking the Rules” by Fil Anderson)