This week’s discussion questions were as follows:
1. Have you ever found yourself ‘in faith’ yet bewildered or demoralized?
2. Do you consider yourself content? Would you describe it as Decidedly Content or Dreamily Content?
3. If you are not content, are there circumstances that keep you from this feeling?
4. Have you ever found yourself in a place where you looked back on a period of your Christian walk and believed a great opportunity passed you by?
5. Do you ever believe your faith was stronger in an earlier time in your Christianity and find yourself floundering now?
6. Can you recognize that this season may be one of great preparation instead of a period of "I Was"?
I read this week’s lesson in its entirety several times. I think the discussion around what ‘content’ means threw me for loops. I am rarely content, either decidedly or dreamily. If I understood the context of this word correctly, it meant to make a conscious decision to make the best of whatever circumstance you are in at the moment, not being anxious or anticipative of what’s around the corner. On the whole, this is not me; while making the best of my circumstances, I am constantly pressing, strategizing, and/or planning. Though I’m no longer anxious about God’s plan, my mind almost never rests in the moment. I’m always thinking, but I don’t move into action without feeling some level of assurance in my steps. I’ve gotten some of my best revelations/ strategies in my dreams, just like the Lord told Joel! Every word I read, each conversation I hear, I ask the Lord, “What am I to do with this information?” I’m not saying that my perspective is right, but I am comfortable enough in my own skin at this season of my life that I don’t necessarily look at this as a bad thing. I’ve submitted my tendency to ‘not let much grass grow under my feet’ with God’s Word in Ephesians 3:20, and this partnership has allowed me to experience His accelerated progress, which I believe is very much a part of His plan for these last days.
Having said all that, I have had periods of bewilderment in my faith. More bluntly stated, I have had periods of spiritual dryness, times when I’m fasting, I’m praying, I’m worshipping, I’m doing everything I know to do, and yet I’m floundering, in the words of this sister in Christ. I feel empty and rather “out of it”. As one example, I can remember attending a church where we fasted every January for 30 days. My friends would talk about how blessed they were by the fast, and all I got was frustrated.
If I reflect on a time when I felt as if I was on fire for Christ, it had to be right before I got married and immediately after. When I think about it, the distinguishing factor was time spent at church. As a single lady, and even as a newlywed, we were far more involved in ministry and at church all the time. I felt as if the Lord was accomplishing so much in and through me. Amazingly enough, however, I wasn’t as mature of a Christian as I am now. I had little control over my tongue, and as a wife, I’m sure if my husband were asked to describe me, submissive wouldn’t be the first word he used. Similarly, loving would have come up farther down the list of character traits, behind inconsistent, behind critical, and behind temperamental. So my struggle in this season is not as much about growth as it is perhaps a twisted vision of what being on fire for Christ looks like. As I was sharing with another sister in Christ, I so struggle with being Superwoman. But that’s a different blog entry.
I can accept my occasional periods of spiritual dryness as preparation, but I’ll admit that it’s a hard place to be. There are few places lonelier than standing in a crowd of 1000+ worshippers, hands lifted up and tears flowing all around you, and feeling as if you’re the only one who’s “not getting it.” During these times, I continue to act in obedience, trusting God who knows my heart and who seems to provide my oasis in the strangest places (does anyone else feel God suddenly while driving?). I love the words of gospel recording artist John P. Kee, so simple yet profound, so real, and so me: ‘There are only two times to praise Him—when I feel like it and when I don’t.’ God bless you today.