I had to laugh the other day as I turned around in the pool where I was participating in my water aerobic class. Our instructor told us to jog back and forth between two lane lines as quickly as we could with our hands up so that the wave we created going in one direction would provide extra resistance when we turned around. As I got to the line, I turned and noticed a group of women at the back who were holding their hands up but standing still. Nothing was happening under the water’s surface. The risk of missing any of their conversation took priority over exercise. They looked the part but were missing the whole purpose.
I laughed again as I drove home thinking about it. But then it hit me—don’t we do that in our churches and among our Christian friends?
We participate only to the extent others see because of our concern to look like everyone else. A group photo might not indicate any problem. But a video would reveal our posing to be more or less a show because real intimacy with God is missing. We’ve got the songs down, the right posture in our church of hand-raising (or lack thereof), Bible study and worship attendance. But in truth what’s in our hearts may be far from God.
I’ve been there, and my guess is that you have too. It’s scary how easy it is to let more intimate and personal spiritual disciplines slip while still looking good to everyone else!
So what do we do when we look very spiritual and yet are in a spiritual funk, failing to have real intimacy with God? (And we can be praying, reading the Bible, and in a Bible study and still be there. Those postures can fool everyone—think the Pharisees.)
Just as physical fitness requires discipline, so does real time with God. So first, we’ve got to be sure we’re consistently setting aside time.
But it’s more than that. Intimacy requires listening as well as speaking. If I start feeling distant from God, I have to assess how much time I’ve been spending talking to him rather than listening for his voice through both the Word and also time in silence.
I don’t know what draws you away from resting in God. Fear? A competitive spirit? Your own success? Your personal desires? Your stuff? Your intelligence? Your family or work situation? Each of us has strengths that tell us we can do it alone and situations that suggest we don’t have time to sit with God in silence.
The responsibility to come to God in dependence and rest lies with each of us alone. Let’s start by asking him to show us how good we look under the surface.
What has been your experience?