When I’m feeling encouraged and powered up in my faith, I have a few things that I do.
- I spend time in serious bible study and learning. (Listening to sermons and teachings, too.)
- I listen to worship music almost exclusively.
- I go to all available bible studies/sunday school/ church services I can.
- I spend time in spiritual warfare/ serious intercession.
- I do declarations.
- I do bible memory work.
- I spend time waiting on the Lord and listening to him.
But… I also have phases and seasons where I am discouraged. I’ve had REALLY bad seasons, where I’m so discouraged that I don’t do ANY of this and I’m literally just- a spiritual wreck, even to the point of not knowing if I actually believe there is a God at all.
But that’s rare. Most of the time, I would say my “discouraged” seasons are more like: seasons where I get lazy, or distracted, or busy, or… well, discouraged.
This morning, I felt the Lord asking me to examine why that happens. What, exactly, happens in my spirit that makes it so that I have seasons where I “give up” and I’m not faithful to “do the things?”
Because I used to think that the difference was prayer. If I was talking to the Lord, it wouldn’t happen. But I’ve had discouraged seasons where I spend PLENTY of time talking to the Lord, but I’m still… discouraged.
Or maybe it was attending church/ staying connected with believers. Or maybe it was not reading Scripture. Or maybe it wasn’t about what I wasn’t doing, but what I WAS doing. Maybe it was when I was reading too many novels, or watching too much TV, or not getting enough sleep?
Well, those theories have all gone out the window because I’ve spent a lot of time “powering through” my discouraged times still praying, reading the bible, staying connected to the church… and still being at home feeling… blah.
Okay so the Lord was nudging me today- asking me to examine this. Why does this happen to me? I’ve wondered lots of times. Is it because I’m “a doubleminded man, unstable in all his ways?” Am I bipolar?
But today, as I was wondering about it, no answer came to me. The only real “reason” I could give was that… sometimes… sometimes I just don’t have as much faith.
Sometimes I don’t believe enough.
Sometimes, hear me out, sometimes I look at all these things I do in faith- the prayer, the study, the acts of service, the pursuit of the Lord- and I think (well, my subconscious thinks) “What’s the point?”
Like, really, I start to seriously not believe that it matters.
I start looking around at other people who don’t do any of those things, some of whom would say they are believers, and their lives seem neither better nor worse than mine… sooo…. why do I bother?
Okay, this is what I was thinking about this morning.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m still- okay, I mean, I say I’ve had times in the past where when I’m discouraged, I have given up almost all my faith stuff. But- nowadays I don’t really give it all up. I still do a lot of faith things. Like, I still do all the church activities I’ve committed to, (including teaching Sunday School and leading worship) I still read the bible at least 5 days out of 7. I still listen to worship music a lot, but maybe not all the time. I still, in general, am living a life that (I believe) pleases the Lord- serving and loving and being faithful. It’s not like I’m totally running away like the Prodigal Son.
I mean not totally.
I’m just… on Christian autopilot.
So this morning, I was on Christian autopilot. I spent the morning working on an art project, doing some housework, watching a stupid netflix show, feeling a little low but not totally hopeless.
And then my mom called.
My mom called and asked me to pray for her, and she was- crying, and praying, and sounded awful, and honestly I spent about twenty minutes on the phone while we both thought she was having a heart attack, and I was trying to convince her to call an ambulance, or go to the hospital, and she was pleading the blood of Jesus, and I was… honestly? very, very aware of how little faith I had.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things yet unseen.
These are the things that I lose. The things that slip away from me because why?
Because I don’t notice them leaving.
Because they are things I have to CHOOSE to have.
Don’t lose hope.
I think to myself- if I’m doing all the things, my faith will increase, my hope will magnify!
But I think I have to focus on them… I think I have to say to my soul
DONT LOSE HOPE.
I think that’s what faithfulness is. It’s not “doing all the things.” It’s having faith and choosing to have hope when it’s not naturally happening.
And then that hope encourages the things to get done.
Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking today.
PS. My mom is okay, we don’t know yet what it was but she’s home and has a clear EKG.