Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Revitalizing a Stale Spiritual Relationship

Photo by Pam Williams
Thirty-six years ago, when I asked Jesus to come into my life, what I really asked was to have a real, living relationship with Him. And He gave me that. He and I have spent a lot of time together since then and weathered a lot of ups and a few downs.

However, the last few years I have been feeling like that relationship has become stale and “put on”—not on Jesus’ part, but on my part. So, after reading a Proverbs 31 devotional suggesting we be really honest with God, I told Him how I was feeling. I was tired of putting on faith, tired of wondering deep inside if He really intervened in our lives, yet blithely telling others that He did. Yes, I still believed Jesus died on the cross for me, but I wondered if He was still working in my life (or anyone else’s) or if lately He had taken a hands-off approach?

IMMEDIATELY God brought to mind several recent changes in my life and in the lives of others that indicated that yes, He DOES still intervene today—moving Dick when job stress was getting the best of him, providing help at just the right moment for a family member contemplating suicide, sending rain to relieve drought conditions, prompting me to begin a Christian writers’ group in an area where there were writers just waiting for such an opportunity—all evidences of His hand still at work.

So what caused me to doubt? A close friend’s death from cancer and loved ones who aren’t yet saved despite years of prayer, contributed to it. But recently, God revealed the real root of the problem to me. The fault lay squarely on my own shoulders. It was my very gradual yet increasingly long lapses in reading His Word and talking with Him that brought about the distance in our relationship.

It started with infrequently staying up so late that when I went to bed I couldn't hold my eyes open to read and drifted off to sleep in the middle of my prayers. Soon that became my habit and eventually I didn't even attempt to read or pray before bed. I convinced myself that it wasn't a problem—I was still praying in the morning and reading from a devotional booklet. Besides, I was writing devotionals and that required looking up scriptures. Surely that was enough!

Then self-imposed commitments, including volunteering at church, keeping up my housekeeping regimen, babysitting, and even writing, started crowding out my devotional routines. I would discover it was suddenly 10:30 and I hadn’t even said, “Good morning, Lord!” or it was time for bed and I hadn’t read one verse that day!

At the start of the New Year I decided I needed to get back on track with some kind of planned devotional time and started reading an online devotional with prayers each day. While this helped to some degree, as time went on I found myself floundering even in that. While devotionals are just what many of us need to jump start our day, I discovered that, for me, reading someone else’s devotional, no matter how inspired, is not the same as directly reading God’s Word and talking with Him. I needed both.

So, I got serious about devoting time to God so He could speak to me through prayer and His Word. And that simple act has completely rebuilt my faith and restored my relationship with Him! Makes me do the happy dance!

Yes, there are still days when I get caught up in the whirlwind of life and find myself spiritually empty as I crawl into bed, but they are now the except and not the rule. Praise God for His faithfulness even when I am not!

This is a true saying: "If we have died with him, we shall also live with him. If we continue to endure, we shall also rule with him. If we deny him, he also will deny us. If we are not faithful, he remains faithful, because he cannot be false to himself."
2 Timothy 2:11-13


©2013 Pamela D. Williams