Following Jesus When the High is Not ThereBlog
I love roller-coasters! I enjoy riding them, studying about them, and could spend hours discussing useless facts about them. I also love the feeling of weightlessness, the adrenaline rush and the high you get from riding a roller-coaster. Several years ago I watched a show on the travel channel and apparently I am not alone in this love for them. There are thrill seekers who travel the world year around just to ride the latest coaster that has been built. The reason why they say is simple: They make you feel good! The high you get from a roller-coaster or any thrill ride is amazing so some people (not sure how they afford it) spend their lives chasing that experience!
Many of you may have recently had an amazing God experience where you encountered what many call a spiritual high. Maybe it was a youth camp, retreat, conference, revival, Sunday morning service, or even a morning quiet time. Those moments where you encounter the living God of the universe and especially when you get to share that experience with other believers is incredible. Peter, James, and John were able to have a similar experience when Jesus took them up on the mountain of transfiguration in Matthew 17. Unfortunately, they couldn’t stay on the mountain and had to come back down. Likewise when we have these experiences, eventually life happens and it has to end. These moments are amazing but they do not last. So many have asked how we can maintain that spiritual high. I think the better question to ask is how can we continue to consistently follow Jesus when the high isn’t there? Summer camp is over, so what now? Will this internal change last or will I fall back into old sins and habits? Here are four practical steps that have helped me tremendously in my walk with Jesus!
Let the Bible Read Us
Obviously, we need to be reading the bible. If I don’t spend time with my wife, our relationship will suffer as a result. At the same time if we neglect time with God it will impact our walk with Him in a negative way. Reading Scripture needs to a priority for us as Christians. I do wonder, however, how often we allow the bible to read us. Stay with me on this! This is the difference between reading Scripture like we are checking off a box on our list instead of truly spending time with our heavenly daddy. We should stop trying to knock out our chapter for the day and have our hearts open to what God is saying to us through the text. I believe a great way to do this is to take a less is more approach. Now I am not necessarily trying to knock the programs involving reading through the bible in a year. If you are doing that or have done that, then that’s great. I just know in my experience it has left me feeling frustrated and defeated. It seemed to become more about just getting through the chapters for the day to keep up with the schedule and less about hearing from God’s word. I would end up missing a few days, getting behind, and then just giving up. Maybe you could try just reading one verse and chew on it for a day. Pray and ask God to speak to you through what it says. This is when transformation begins to take place when we come before God as David did and ask Him to do open heart surgery, revealing whatever sins may be between us and Him. This happens when we stop just reading the bible and start allowing the bible to read us.
Prayer is one of the hardest things to do especially on a consistent basis. There is a lot of spiritual warfare going on in that area because the enemy ultimately doesn’t want us seeking the face of God. Prayer is very important if we are going to grow spiritually, but often our prayers are broad and lack intimacy. We pray prayers such as “Lord forgive me of any sin that I may have committed today,” but we should strive to be more specific than that. We need to confess our sin to God specifically and name the sin whether we are talking about lust, pride, anger, or gossip. This is when we get real with God and stop trying to mask everything. It may go something like: “Lord forgive me for gossiping today about that girl in my class. It was dumb, I probably hurt her reputation, and it wasn’t honoring to you.” When we get honest and specific with God in this way our hearts begin to change. Also we need to try and speak the names of people we pray for instead of just: “Lord I pray for anybody who could be going through a trial today.” Name the name of your pastor, Sunday school teacher, school teacher, coworker, or friend. This not only helps strengthen our relationship with God but also our relationships with those we pray for because you are emotionally and spiritually investing into their lives.
Start a Prayer Journal
If you don’t have a prayer journal, then you need to start one yesterday. This has been a game changer for me over the last few years and has revolutionized my prayer life. If you are like me and struggle with focusing then this will help you big time! Often while praying I am easily distracted, however, writing out my prayers forces me to focus on what I am praying about. Another cool thing about writing out your prayers is that you will have the opportunity to check back later and see where God answered the prayer when you thought He didn’t. I think that we often pray and expect God to answer immediately, but He always answers in His timing. I recently looked back into my journal at a prayer that I prayed several years ago and was able to see how God has answered now. What may have seemed like a situation where God had forgotten about us turned into an opportunity to see just how faithful God had been because we saw how things worked out better because of His timing. I continue to hear from people who share of their walk with Jesus growing as the result of keeping a prayer journal. It’s simple but very effective so if you don’t have one, go start one NOW!!
We are naturally selfish people for the most part. Even when we show kindness to others it is often because we know it will eventually benefit us somehow. That’s why unconditionally serving others is such a big deal. Jesus modeled this in John 13 when He washed the disciple’s feet and then commanded them to go and do likewise. This was very out of the box because only slaves and servants ever did such a thing, yet the son of God stooped down to wash the feet of His own creation. Serving others changes us, especially when we serve those who have showed us hate or persecution. It is not instinctive to serve those who have wronged us but that’s why it affects us so much because while it may not impact them, it definitely will impact us. Choosing to show love to those who we would label as “not deserving” means that change has already begun in our hearts. The insecurity, bitterness, hate, or fear is already starting to fade away. This is the pure love of Christ being put on display as we wash feet daily and it takes our focus off of ourselves and causes us to see the needs of others. So love somebody, text them, grab a door, be an ear/shoulder, and wash feet today! You may be surprised at the results that will take place in your Christian walk.