March 10, 2020
Yes, my friends. Though I’m still working on a proper monthly blog update for February, I’ve had some thoughts in the last couple days that were too long for an Instagram post. Hence, my thoughts on “The Lull”:
It was, perhaps, bound to come at some point. That slow-but-steadily-growing feeling of familiarity with something that once seemed, and in reality still is, absolutely, mind-blowingly, incredible.
Is it any less amazing? Nope. Not an ounce. Every day, every session, every worship moment is no less amazing than it was on day one. But is it harder to keep the wonder? Absolutely. And chatting with a few of my fellow classmates, it seems I’m not alone.
I know it’s natural for this to happen for anyone with anything. A new job, a new city, a new church, a new relationship… Everything starts off new and shiny, each day bringing with it a sense of awe, time seeming to crawl in comparison to the breakneck speed of the old context. But then, you get used to it. It becomes familiar. And it becomes a little harder to find the wonder in the every day.
The hour-long worship sets that once seemed to hold fresh breakthrough every time now start to become the excuse to go to the bathroom. Bible sessions that once felt revelatory and breath-taking start to become a long lecture to sit through.
And, for me, this slip towards the dull ache of familiarity has crept into my personal times with Jesus too. Some days I still leave with a deep sense of closeness to Him, but other times I end my devotions wondering where He’s gone.
Am I just tired? Worn out? Lacking alone time, or lacking friend time? Did my fatigue bring about this, or is it the other way around?
This, my friends, is The Lull. And though this little post is aimed more at those living in Redding attending a School of Ministry that proudly defines itself as Supernatural, I’m guessing anyone who has lived twenty or more years on this planet can relate. At some point, The Lull seems to find everyone everywhere.
So what’s the solution? I’ll admit I don’t fully know. While I do feel I am perhaps starting to break out of The Lull, as I’ve felt some things shifting in the last few days, I wouldn’t consider myself entirely free of it yet. I still feel the pull of the mundane, of the dull tiredness.
But I have had recent some thoughts I believe will be helpful for me; perhaps they’ll do they same for you:
First, when you feel The Lull hit, don’t freak out. Remember that God is crazy in love with you. Stand firm on that, first and foremost, and never let that be shaken. I think it’s important to invite the Holy Spirit to investigate you, and see if there are thought patterns or behaviours that are preventing connection, but I also think it is critical to trust our relationship with God enough that if we don’t hear anything specific from Him, God isn’t using the silent treatment as punishment for some sin we’ve unwittingly committed.
On a related note, remember that God’s presence isn’t a formula. True, there are principles at play, but ultimately I believe His presence is a gift. That means when it comes, it’s not a reward for our good behaviour, and when it doesn’t come, it’s not punishment for our bad behaviour. Keep trusting Him in the relationship.
The other main concept I’ve been mulling over in my efforts to combat The Lull can, I think, be best summed up as adventure.
Maybe God isn’t silent. Maybe He just moved, and you haven’t followed Him. Maybe He’s not punishing you for screwing up; maybe He’s inviting you to chase Him into a brand new way of experiencing Him. If so, you will likely find yourself thanking Him for his apparent lack of communication as it entices you into this fresh way of relating to Him.
If you’re used to sitting down during a corporate worship setting, maybe it looks like standing and shouting. If you’re used to dancing around, maybe it looks like just standing there quietly and staring at Jesus. If you usually start your personal devotions with worship, maybe start it with 10 minutes of silence. Or unstructured Bible. Or move to a different room of your house. Or wander off to a lonely hillside with nothing but a ukulele and see what happens. Or sit with a stack of notebooks and spend an hour simply remembering what God’s done in the past few months. Or wander around your city streets looking for someone to pray for; perhaps Jesus is hiding in our obedience to partner with Him in seeing His Kingdom invade earth as people experience His presence, get healed, and get free.
These are just a few of the very real things I’ve been thinking about and plan on trying out in the next little while.
Perhaps you think it’s rather silly to simply choose an item from the above list and do it in hopes that some encounter with God will result. But I actually think such an approach would absolutely thrill God, even if not all of the attempts turn out the way we would hope.
Hebrews 11:6 talks about how Faith is a vital, irreplaceable part of the formula to pleasing God. It’s a key ingredient. Further, I would argue that the goal of worship is ultimately to make God happy, and thus true worship can’t be achieved without Faith. If we can agree with that, we need to see if we can agree on what Faith actually is.
I’m still working on it, but my current best attempt at giving a definition for Faith would read something along the lines of “a deep trust leading to risky obedience.” Assuming that’s true, this type of “let’s-try-something” approach to God is exactly what He’s looking for. He’s looking for risk. He’s looking for someone who is willing to go on an adventure with Him, without any guarantees on how it will turn out. In fact, without some level of this understanding of Faith, true worship isn’t possible.
The beauty of this is that even if the approach we try out to get closer to God “fails” from our perspective, God is still pleased with it, because we have made an honest attempt. We are risking. And the only way to know for sure that we are risking is if we sometimes fail.
So that’s what I’m hoping to do over the next few days, as I continue my journey away from The Lull. I plan on taking risks in my personal and corporate times with Jesus. I plan on trying new things, some of them rather uncomfortable, and seeing if, perhaps, a new understanding of Jesus is hiding inside of that risk.
But perhaps so.
That's a risk I'm willing to take.