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Do you as you get done with the endless rounds of church services, volunteering shifts, small groups, and food pantry donations, ever stop short and ask yourself, “Is this all there is?”.
Seriously, do you ever feel like a poser always projecting this vibrant relationship with God when frankly you are not even sure you could tell the difference between his voice and the pizza you had for dinner last night?
Do you ever feel like all your running around for God leaves you feeling even emptier inside? Your devotions and all your knowledge of God feel pointless because it never seems to transfer into real life?
You feel discouraged, unmotivated, and maybe even a little guilty. This is not what you imagined a living breathing, relationship with God would look like.
I was there. I had reached the end of what I could work up for God. My endless doing for God felt exhausting, overwhelming and never enough. My relationship felt stagnant like someone had pressed pause, and no conference on the earth was going to change that outcome.
I grew more desperate as the dissatisfaction continued to grow. There had to be more to a relationship with God than my current experience of him.
So, what do you do when you reach a wall in your relationship with God that you can’t scale, you can bury under, and you can’t knock down?
2. The Invitation
3. The Transformed Life
1. The Desperation
I grew up in the church. I was there every time the doors were open. I was involved in various ministries, attended all the classes, and pursued learning as much as I could about God and how to be a good Christian.
I went on staff at a local church and served as part of their elementary team and later as their youth pastor. I created and led events that were designed to help students and their families grow deeper in their faith. I was all about producing more, accomplishing more, and working more all in an effort to prove my worth not only to others but to God.
I would run from conference to event to workshop hunting for an encounter with God all the while burying this deep sense of dissatisfaction and exhaustion. I believed the lie that “good Christians” (especially in ministry) don’t give up, they stick with it. I found myself running from one thing to the next trying to serve my way into encountering God’s love and approval.
If you would have asked me I would have told you that without a doubt God’s love for me was not conditional on my performance. And that there was nothing I could do to make God love me any more or any less than he did right now. I thought I believed it, but I obviously hadn’t experienced God’s transforming love.
Can I tell you that it is exhausting to try and outperform God? Okay, that might be a little over dramatic (:) but it felt like the harder I “ministered for Jesus” the more dissatisfied I became. My quiet times felt stale and lifeless and I couldn’t figure out where to go from here.
2. The Invitation
I had grown up hearing stories of men and women of faith. Who not only exemplified the fruits of the spirit (the holy grail of the Christian life) but who even more surprisingly had actual deep relationships with Jesus.
They had actual conversations with God which were captivating because if I were honest, my conversations with Jesus were more me talking and him listening. They completely surrendered their lives to God, it wasn’t always pretty, and yet shockingly they were at peace. That’s it, I thought, I want what they have. Little did I know that an invitation was about to be presented to me.
I was sitting in a staff meeting when I first heard about several people I respect journeying through a book (Journey with Jesus) that was based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatian. I wasn’t familiar with St. Ignatius at the time, and a coming from a conservative evangelical background I was leery of anything with a saint in front of it. 🙂
However, I remember sitting there and hearing the stories of these leaders whose lives, ministries, and intimacy with Jesus were transformed. I knew this was something I had to check out.
One of the things that I learned about St. Ignatius is that he was a man who strongly desired to help others encounter a deep experience of Jesus. The key for me was the word Experience. I did not need more head knowledge about God, I wanted a relationship with him.
The process was a little daunting, you commit to nine months of not only meeting with God for an hour a day but also meeting regularly with a Spiritual Friend. After time spent in prayer I felt like this was God’s bold invitation to me.
I am not going to lie. This experience cost me something. I had to rearrange my life so I could participate in this journey.
As a mom, who at the time had several kids under the age five (and a brand-new puppy), finding an hour to meet with God each day was not easy by any stretch of the imagination. I had to be creative when it came to carving out time with Jesus. But it was so necessary for my soul.
3. The Surrendered Life
Those nine months (that actually stretched into a year and a half) changed my life. Through daily scripture reading, prayer, silence, and hands-on activities, I encountered the lavish never-ending love of the Father.
I discovered that as I experienced God’s love by indentity started to undergo a transformation. God used this tool (for that is all that it is) in my life to allow me to experience the height and depth and breadth of his lavish love. It was like a breath of fresh air. Finally, I could cease striving to try to prove my worth and rest in my identity as one chosen, adopted and unconditionally loved by my Father in heaven.
I learned that the basis of my relationship with God is learning how to be rooted and grounded in love. It is out of my great love relationship with him that I can, in turn, share his love with others.
My whole paradigm shifted, my identity, security, and outlook on life changed drastically. I don’t have to jump from conference to conference trying to figure out the missing key to a deep relationship with God. My relationship with God has grown significantly. I get to step off the treadmill of performance and actively participate with the Holy Spirit in my life.
I am, like all of us, on a journey. Every day, I discover something new, and it feels like I am just scratching the surface of a relationship with Jesus. Life is still challenging but you get to rest in the peace that you are unconditionally loved by God. This changes EVERYTHING!
You get to embrace of life of freedom instead of constantly worrying about how you measure up. You get to live everyday in anticipation for you know there is SO MUCH MORE to a relationship with Jesus.
So, my friends, are ready to experience God on a deeper level? Here are some ways that you can get started in actually EXPERIENCING the love of the Father.
Everyone’s journey to a deeper life with God is different. If you feel drawn to the Ignatian Exercises you can check out this book Journey with Jesus by Larry Warner. I love it because it is written in a very accessible and experiential way. You actually get to participate in activities that help create space for the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Did I make it clear that I LOVE it? 🙂
If that seems like a bit much, to take on right now, I would suggest reading Surrender to Love by David Benner. It is a short but powerful book (its worth it even if you hate reading) that has played a huge part in my walk with Jesus.
I pray that you will experience the height, depth, and breadth of God’s lavish love for you.
You will never be the same.
If you want to know how to get started in living a deep life with God; grab our Deeper Life Beginners Guide(below). And join our community of moms who are hungry for more Jesus in their lives and in the lives of their families.
What about you? What is God’s invitation to you? Leave a comment, and don’t forget to follow Most Important Work on Pinterest!
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