I woke up this morning, energetic, even before coffee. The “fall back” is always a special time of rejuvination for me- it’s like time travel- I get to redeem an entire hour that was lost to me in the spring.
Anyway, there was a vigor in me as I prepared for church this morning. Aside from the argument my daughter and I had over her unwillingness to wear shoes this morning, (Get thee behind me, Satan!) I still had an eagerness to experience God’s presence this morning.
Except… That time never came.
I never palpably felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in my church. I didn’t feel my heart ignite with zeal during worship. I wasn’t moved by the sermon. God was curiously silent.
In talking with my husband on the way home, he verbalized similar concern. He said, “I’ve now listened to that same sermon twice and while I have thoughts through it, I’m not moved as the rest of the church seems to be… I don’t know, maybe I’m just dead inside.” And it forced me to ask, why?
That last bit, “maybe I’m just dead inside” has been bouncing around in my head and heart. And I reject its entire premise.
I’ve been saved and changed by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is alive and working in my family and in the various facets of my life- I see Him in answered prayers, in my discipline to seek His face, in my finances aligning to His Kingdom purposes…
So why is there a disconnect between my spiritual life at church, and my spiritual life everwhere else? Why does going to that place make me feel sleepy and spiritually dead? Why does my mind wander there but not at home? Why can I discern the power and presence of the Holy Spirit at my Tuesday Bible study meetings but not on Sunday mornings in Sunday school and worship?
I asked God. I got a few answers.
- Motives– God called me to check the purity of my motives and the condition of my heart as I go in to worship. This morning, I was dealing with my change-averse 4 year old who felt isolated, lonely, and bored when the whole church was briefed on the nursery rules preventing children over 3 from being in the nursery. My son was hurt- his younger siblings are his best friends; he didn’t understand why he couldn’t be with them- especially in a church as small as ours when his siblings are the closest in approximate age to him. It hurt my mama heart seeing him upset and confused, and I comforted him as best I could, committed to seeing him “suck it up” and also to honor the guidelines presented by our pastor. That said, my motives to focus wholly on God this morning were distracted by my little guy.
- Expectations– God led me to examine my expectations for worship; are they realistic? I expect a certain degree of spiritual maturity in a church with advanced average age; a church that has been following Christ for 35 years should have seen tremendous growth compared to when they first began. I expect that when I enter into worship with a group of other believers, God will move, because He inhabits the praise of His people. I expect Christians to pray. I expect nothing more or less of anyone else than I do of myself- forward progression in faith reliant on Christ, and spiritual growth and maturation with time; the details and rate of growth depend on God. But to stagnate is to die. I am not satisfied with a church that is luke-warm. I don’t want tepid faith. The Lord placed on my heart a burden for prayer- a life characterized by it and I intend to seek Him in obedience to that call to prayer.
- Obedience– are there any areas in my life where I am walking in disobedience to something God has called me to? If so, I recognize that disobedience removes His annointing (like Saul). Nothing that I can think of, but I pray God will continue to purge me of anything that breaks His heart. There are several ways in which I am prayerfully seeking His wisdom and guidance as to what, when, and how to engage in things I do feel Him calling me to, but as of yet, I haven’t received His answer and I refuse to move apart from His presence.
- Prayer– This is the biggie; I know that to see change of any sort I have to fervently seek God in prayer. He hears the prayers of the righteous, and He delights to answer His children. So that’s my take away. Simply because my husband and I weren’t touched by the service today does not mean others weren’t. It means God was speaking something different to us, possibly in silence, that beckons us to deeper more intimate relationship in prayer. We need to examine our own lives, repent of sin, and pray for His will to be done.
When people experience moves of God and I don’t, my first question is why? Why didn’t that touch my heart like it did theirs? Am I dead inside? Or is God just working in them something which He already has or possibly needn’t focus on in me?
In either case, it leads me to prayer.
I pray for less distraction, pure motives, greater discipline and courage to obey, and for a deeper prayer life in its own right, as I know that will be how intimacy with the Lord will develop.