The streets of my hometown have become so familiar to me that sometimes I arrive back home in the driveway having no recollection of driving. Has that ever happened to you? You know, when you pull up and wonder "Did I just black out?" Surely you must have stopped at lights, turned on the blinker, turned right and then left to get back home...but you weren't fully conscious of it while you were actually doing it.
It kind of freaks me out whenever it happens, but I know that all it really is...is my body has temporarily gone into 'auto-pilot' mode. I've done the route so many times that my brain has trained itself to go through the motions without even being conscious of it.
The same sort of phenomenon can happen in our spiritual lives. We go to the same church service, read the same Bible, say the same prayers over and over and over again that sometimes our level of consciousness dulls after a while. We become like robots: efficient and productive, but void of all feeling, meaning, passion and purpose.
We're all susceptible to auto-pilot mode. I confess just recently I was reading my Bible for nearly a half an hour before I realized I wasn't retaining anything I was reading! I was going through the motions, but my mind was taking its own little mini-vacation to who knows where.
I was struck by a passage from John Steinbeck's East of Eden, which sheds light on this same point. Referring to one of the characters of the book, it says, "She never studied the Bible or inspected it; she just read it...finally, she came to a point where she knew it so well that she went on reading it without listening." (Pg 43. East of Eden, John Steinbeck)
Reading without listening. That's what auto-pilot mode is: doing things without really listening, retaining, hearing or feeling. How often do we read the Word of of God without listening? How often do we go to church without listening? How often do we pray or worship without listening to the Spirit of the living God? All of these things are good "spiritual activities" that can help us grow closer to God, but how sad when we reduce them to a set of rituals and routines. We check them off on our 'Being a Good Christian' To-Do list and go on our way.
But is that what we really want? Is it what God wants?
No. God looks beyond our godly behavior, beyond our moral choices, beyond our church activities and stares intently into our hearts. He wants us to read His Word with our ears, hearts and minds -- open and expecting to hear from Him. He wants us to worship, ready to learn and receive new revelation about His character and Kingdom plans. He wants us to pray earnestly about the things that break His heart. He wants us to be desperate for more of His loving and powerful presence in our lives. He simply wants us to want...Him.
If you find yourself on spiritual auto-pilot mode, it's okay. All of us -- no matter how close to God or how mature in our faith -- experience spiritual droughts. The important thing is not to stay there! Cry out right now to the living God and ask Him to:
I love the words from Psalm 42:
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God? (V1-2)
May your soul pant...thirst...crave for your Father's embrace this week as you go about your busy life. There is no greater gift in the world than desiring God more than anything else.
**Challenge: Choose to step outside your ordinary routine with God this week! Pick at least one new way of expressing your love to God and connecting with Him. Here are few ideas:
1. Turn off all media, turn up your worship music and spend quality time worshiping God in private through singing and dancing!
2. Go on a walk around your neighborhood and make it a "prayer walk." Ask God to lay on your heart things/people/nations you can pray for.
3. Read the Word out loud to yourself. Underline and write out specific verses that speak to you and post them around your house, asking God to reveal to you what He is saying to you.
Be encouraged...when you position yourself to listen, you WILL hear!
Then Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (Mark 4:9)
"How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." (Psalm 84:1-2)
Let the words of "As the Deer" (by various artists) re-ignite your passion for God this week: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gaT4q9eJ1U
Ali Smith just came out with her new book Entrusting the Key: From Serial Dating to Joyful Waiting (Amazon.com), sharing her journey of how to find joy and purpose while being single. When Ali is not writing, speaking or skiing on the Rocky Mountain slopes, she is raising funds to help street children in the Philippines go to college. Check out the website for more information on the fund: http://ningningpef.wordpress.com/ or http://alinsmith.wordpress.com/
© 2011 by Ali Smith. All rights reserved.