Instant Spirituality

We Americans tend to be a people addicted to instant results. Smartphones with data answer every little question we have in just a few seconds. Restaurants offer ready made dinner to customers. Microwaves heat up food in a fraction of the time an oven would take. Social media provides instant access to contacting a friend or catching up on their life. Yet, some of the most important things in life take more time and patience.

Doing something as quick as possible can drain the fun out of it and often, when I take the fast-track to get a result or answer, it doesn’t mean as much to me. I’m more prone to be dissatisfied with my accomplishment or even forget the question I was seeking an answer to! Quick just does not make as big of an impact.

Maybe that is why Jesus said, “Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away” (Matthew 13:5-6).

Jesus’ disciples were confused by the parable that these verses are a part of, so there is actually an explanation of exactly what it means!

“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away” (Matthew 13:20-21).

What strikes me is the word “immediate.” This person’s decisions are made in the moment. They immediately receive the Gospel with joy, which you would think was a good thing. Yet later, he immediately falls away.

Our instant culture has trained us to think immediate results are a good thing. Here we see that they fall short, though. When a habit, skill, or way of thinking is not given a good foundation of understanding and time to grow slowly, it will likely disappear just as quickly as it appeared. Over time we become who we are. Over time faith becomes part of who we are at our core. Nothing can replace the role that God has given time in our sanctification. Consistently saturating our mind with the Word and spending time in community will bring about lasting change.

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66. Into the Unknown

It’s always an odd feeling when life, or God, leads you to someplace you weren’t expecting to visit. This is where I find myself right now. God is transforming my mind and bringing me healing in ways that are truly impossible, at least impossible on my own strength. (Trust me, I have tried to “fix” myself in these ways many a time..) It’s so strange to finally be in the transition period and yet not be the initiator of it; so amazing and scary to feel and see these changes and new patterns of thought.

The “scary” got a lot bigger than the “amazing” this week, though. Honestly, there was one day when I would just randomly start crying over seemingly little things. Except that they represented this new place God is taking me, so they were actually really big things to me.

At the end of that emotional day, the Holy Spirit gently reminded me that I can trust my Father. It’s not me against the world, nor me on a journey to miserableness by myself. Nope. It’s me traveling the road to wholeness with a good, good Father and Friend. (Having great friends and family helps a whole lot too.)

I was reminded of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Isn’t it great when the cliché verses take on whole new meaning!? Well, in my unsureness, this verse became a rock of truth.

I don’t know what the next months, or even the next few days, will look like on this transition journey. That’s an acute fact right now. But really, do any of us really know what the next days will hold? That’s why the Bible encourages us to say, “If the Lord wills it, we will do _______.” Keeping hold of the promises that God has a good plan and that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him will make every weird day and odd “I don’t know what’s going on” feeling much easier to roll with.

64. Hope[less?]

“Hopelessness.” She named my emotion. Immediately both shame and relief flooded me. I had always called it depression, but this new name had so much more power- it was real. More than that though, my suffering was being acknowledged and on some deep level, it finally clicked that it wasn’t normal to feel like that. Each of these brought relief, but shame came as well. What Jesus follower is hopeless? That goes against the hope filled gospel I claim to believe- indeed I do believe!

I came across some encouraging verses about hope, though:

“Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things- thinks that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook you work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” – Hebrews 6:9-12

This is simply one way that God is working healing in my life. I am learning to view life in a more positive way, such as, actually enjoying it. As a friend told me the other day, “You’re extremely talented at stressing- and that’s not a good thing!” My normal pattern of thought makes living pretty miserable.

So far, what I’ve experienced of the positive life is different then I expected, though. It’s not so much about never planning for what could go wrong or acknowledging pain. I’ve found it means letting myself feel a full range of emotions but coming home to peace and contentment in Jesus. (Even if I can’t feel those emotions at the time, I can trust that they are what Jesus wants for me.) It means reminding myself every morning that 1, Jesus loves me, and 2, today is worth living- any good, bad, or awkward moment is worth experiencing in its fullness.

Just like when forming any new habit, it’s a battle; I fall back into the old way of thinking at times. Even in the failing, though, I can see Jesus’ love more clearly. Knowing the fullness of life He wants me to experience and the hope He wants me to hold provides fresh motivation to try again!