Even if there’s not one currently in your refrigerator for the holidays, it’s very likely that you’ve experienced the sheer joy of a roll of cookie dough. Some of you can’t even wait to cook the stuff, and just eat the dough raw (or stuff it in your ice cream)….
So, with those images evoked: How would you describe your spiritual state right now? Baked to a golden brown and ready to serve? Half-baked? Burnt to a crisp?
No matter whether you’re in a good place or a bad one right now, it’s always important to remember: No matter how hard we try—no matter how important our “ministry” is to others, or truthfully, how important it makes us feel to be doing it—we won’t get far without God’s power. Or, for that matter, without recognizing that everything we do should glorify God.
Everything we do—no matter how mundane or normal it might seem to us—can be an act of worship. Everything we truly do for God is worship. But we need to stay connected to God to do it. And as incredible as it sounds, we need to allow God to serve us—to give us the things we need so that we’re really serving him back.
As John Piper says in Desiring God, “God’s insistence that we ask Him to give us help so that He gets glory forces on us the startling fact that we must beware of serving God and take special care to let him serve us, lest we rob Him of His glory.” As we reconnect and stay connected with God, the Spirit gives us the power and direction we need to do the things God’s built us for. Without that power, it’s just us thinking we’re doing God a favor. So let’s start by thinking about this:
• What things just seem to drain all the energy out of you whenever they happen?
• Which of the situations you thought of tend to pull you away from God rather than cause you to lean on Him? (Be more specific than “all of them.”)
Now, let’s begin refueling, by spending time in God’s Word. Tab up and read the following passages, and then think through the questions that follow.
• Psalm 50:7-15
• Isaiah 40:21-31
• John 15:1-8
• 2 Corinthians 12:6-10
• Revelation 2:1-5
• Which of these passages resonates most with you right now? Why do you think that is?
• We’ve already talked about circumstances that pull us away from God. When have difficult circumstances pushed you closer to God?
• Why do you think your reactions during those times were so different from those we discussed earlier?
• How can you respond differently to the things that do tend to pull you away from God?
We need “down time” with Jesus, too—time to just rest in Him. Here are just a few ideas to help get you reconnected. Try one, try them all, or better yet, try whatever God’s putting on your heart right now:
• Spend some more time in this week’s readings, especially those that are speaking loudest to you right now. What’s God trying to tell you, and what are you going to do about it? Spend time reconnecting with God and finding out the answer to that question this week. Then take the steps to make God’s direction your reality.
• Think again about how you normally connect with God, and what other ways you might do so. Then try this: Spend an entire day worshipping God in those new ways. At some point during the day, share with someone else what you’re doing, and why. Letting others know you’re making God—and only God—your priority might help them do the same.
• How can you connect with God—in public? This idea isn’t for everyone, but if you’re musically gifted or don’t mind praying with others looking on, find a nearby park and invite a group (maybe this one!) to sing, pray, or worship along with you. Be respectful of others’ “personal space,” but don’t be afraid to let your faith and joy come out. Sure, some passers-by could be put off, but others might be curious about what (or Who) makes you tick. Who knows? You might even get some additional participants—or at least the opportunity to share the Source of your joy.
• Plan a weekend (or at least all-day) retreat, either alone or with your small group. It doesn’t have to be on a secluded mountainside, but it should be far enough from home to not pose a distraction. Be sure to not only set aside times for eating, recreation, prayer and worship, but also at least one extended time (an hour or more) to get alone with God to receive His guidance, meditate upon His word, and appreciate His creation. If you do this as a group, be sure to gather together after this solitary time to share what God may be saying to each of you.
But for now: Re-read John 15:5, then take some time to confess when you’ve let “doing”—even “doing for God”—disconnect you from Jesus’ strength. Ask for God’s forgiveness and guidance to help you stay connected, even when other things in life try to pull you away. And may you experience Jesus’ love and power even more deeply as you abide in Him.