Something that I’ve observed throughout my very short lifetime is how we are creatures who quickly learn to adapt to our surroundings. We like routine, we like familiarity, and we like consistency. Anytime we change up our lifestyle, diet, environment, job, etc, it is only natural for us to immediately try and revert back to what we know until new habits are established. After being married for almost two years, I can tell you that both my wife and I have had to learn to adapt! And if you’ve ever been a parent, I can guarantee that you have had to get used to some new routines 🙂
Now when I first became a follower of Jesus Christ, I was thrown so far out of my comfort zone that I learned to embrace it. It was definitely a “born again” experience for me. Although everything was unfamiliar, there was something about the spontaneity of encountering and obeying God that awakened my heart. But over time, even the presence of God became an environment I could adapt to. It weighs heavy on mind to know that this is the case for so many Christians who started out full of fresh faith with rivers of living water flowing from within them, but now after years of building dams out of religious routines, all that is left inside them is a stagnate pond that is quickly drying up. Many church leaders often discuss the amount of young people who leave the faith after they leave the home, but could it be that just like our modern medical methods, we have vaccinated a generation with just enough faith to make them immune to the real thing?
Many of you might know about the garden of Gethsemane as the place where Jesus prayed while His disciples fell asleep before He was betrayed by one of them and sentenced to be crucified (Matt. 26:36-56; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:39-53). Something interesting though is that the gospels also tell us that this was a place where Jesus often met with His disciples (Jn. 18:2; Lk 22:39). If only His disciples knew that this would be the last prayer meeting they would have with their Messiah before He went to the cross, then they might not have fallen asleep. But just like us, these disciples became so over-familiar with their surroundings that they were immune to His presence and the urgency of the moment.
If you feel you are at this place, then don’t give up because there is still hope! I believe Jesus’ remedy for a Christian who has been immunized from having a burning heart is the same remedy that He gave His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” It’s not enough to be faithful if we are not FULL of FAITH. Of course it’s good and right to implement healthy routines into our life such as gathering with other believers, studying the Bible, eating healthy, going to work on time, and so on. Jesus Himself did things as was His custom, but even in keeping a routine, He modeled how to live in a spontaneous, living and breathing relationship with the Father. At the end of the day, His food was to do His Father’s will (Jn. 4:34).
To be watchful is to be attentive or actively engaged with what is going on around us. To be prayerful is to be attentive or actively engaged with what is going on within us. God is calling us to keep the internal conversation going with Him as well as the external conversation about Him. Don’t settle for a Sunday-only-faith or a crisis-only-faith. Don’t settle for being vaccinated with small doses of the presence of God and life of obedience to Him even if it means some people put you under quarantine.
Like I said about marriage earlier, I know my wife and I have had to make some post-honeymoon lifestyle adaptations, but I also know that what is going to help keep our love alive is that we’re making every effort to keep the conversation going! I have to be willing to walk through new experiences with her outside of my comfortable shell just like God wants to walk through new experiences with us. It’s the tension of faithfully remaining on the potter’s wheel, yet being consistently vulnerable to the potter’s hands. If you are spiritually bored and dull, it’s not as much about needing a change in scenery as much as it is needing a change in vision.
LORD, would you break our immunity to your presence today. Make us tender to your voice. As we draw near to you, would you fill us with a fresh faith. Break down the dams of pride that we’ve built up and let you rivers flow again. Help us to see the urgency of the hour. Help us to see how beautiful you are. Help us to take our focus off of familiar language and scenery, and revive our expectancy by placing our focus on you and what you are doing. Teach us how to raise our children and the next generation without vaccinating them from genuinely encountering and knowing you. In Jesus’ name, amen.