If we are rooted in God’s word, we will not be quick to abandon him… even if our hearts feel far from him.
So the question becomes how do we grow those roots? How do we prepare ourselves for that inevitable season when we are going feel abandoned by our God?
It comes down to what is known in theological circles as spiritual disciplines. But in plain terms a spiritual discipline is simply a regular practice or habit in your life that draws you nearer to God and opens you up to what He has to say to you. This is root building.
Whenever the topic of Spiritual disciplines comes up I am always quick to recommend two books…
The Celebration of Discipline by R.C. Foster. (amazon)
The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg. (amazon)
The former is more of a classic work on the subject, while the latter is a more contemporary work. Both of them have the same goal… Helping the reader understand and apply behavior that will draw them nearer to God.
But now if you will allow me to continue, I must tell you that I am a lucky guy.
You see... I have been blessed to have a great family and many good friends in my life; a handful of trusted people who I can run to in a moment of crisis. Odds are you have a person or two like this; maybe a spouse, a family member, or a good friend. Odds are, also, that these relationships were not built only during a time of crisis or in preparation for one. They are built on other things. The relationship I have with one of my best friends began with us playing guitar together… in our garages. That’s it. Now we enjoy true friendship and can rely on each other through the darkest of darks.
The reason I mention friendship is this... If you find yourself in a crisis, you are not likely to go to someone that you have no history with. Rather, you are going to run to the person you trust, and who will look out for you; the person you started getting to know by playing guitars in the garage. You have roots.
The same is true with God. We have to get to know him before we feel like we need him (don’t get me wrong, we have always needed him, but we don’t always feel like it.) I urge you to get to know him; to grow those roots in him. Experience that spiritual discipline. Here are a couple just to give you some food for thought.
Prayer – Often frustrating because we only use it when we are hurting or are in need. Then we give it a shot, and it frustrates us. It’s easier to pray during a crisis if you are used to praying.
Study – The Bible is overwhelming at a first glance (ok, at a one thousandth glance as well.) There are times where we want to know about a particular topic or idea and what the bible says about something, but we can get lost fast and give up easily. However, if we have a regular habit of studying the scriptures, when those times of urgency come, we will know how to do it
Fellowship – This is sharing life with others; letting people into your life and your walk with God. Again, if we only strive to do this when we are in deep need, it is hard and frustrating, but if we are in the habit of spending time with other people during the calm, then when the storm comes we are not without a place to turn.
The list goes on… things like solitude, confession, worship, fasting, etc. The point of this entry is not to be an extensive list or lesson on spiritual discipline, but rather just a starting point. It wouldn’t hurt to read the above mentioned books if you want to go farther into this.
My only point is this. The development of these disciplines allows us to run to God and seek him even when we don’t feel like it. It is what allows us to fake it ‘till we make it.