I often share what I’ve learnt through my experiences. Mostly, this is as a result of some character flaws I have identified and I’ve now reached the point where I have to think extremely hard about what I share because God has been putting ya girl in check!
I obviously can’t share everything, a lot of personal issues have too long of a back story or simply don’t need to be broadcasted to the world. Over the years, as I grow in faith and trust, the Lord reveals things to me, but since 2017 begun, this has been occurring at an accelerated rate- it was obvious that something had changed to initiate this.
I started thinking about why some of these issues took so long to present themselves and what the causes of my stubbornness might be.
The difference between spirituality and morality:
If you’re a regular reader, then you already know how much I love my definitions, so here we go…
Morality: conformity to the rules of right conduct
Spirituality: the quality or fact of being spiritual
I have to add to this slightly, to me, from a Christian perspective, I believe that your level of spirituality is how in-tune you are with the spirit within you: The Holy Spirit.
The reason I mention this is because I would say that I have quite good morals, I was brought up with a solid understanding of right and wrong, good and bad etc. and there were certain things I simply didn’t do because of my morals. Some of the things I refrained from could also be classed as sin, and so it appeared to some that I had high spirituality. The truth was that I didn’t avoid certain things because I felt that God had told me to, but because I was simply brought up not to. My intentions had no link to my relationship with God.
This had a negative impact on my spirituality because I was under the impression that I was more spiritual than was the reality. When I heard a sermon or attended a conference I could sit proud (which is an issue in itself) and feel as though I was “Good with God” because there was a whole list if things I didn’t do and it was easy to brush off the things I did do. But my heart wasn’t connected.
Growing up in a Christian home:
I believe that there are many people like myself who have grown up in the church and faced similar problems. As young and naïve children, you simply do as you are told without always questioning the reason and sometimes these habits, routines or attitudes stick: they become a part of your character. You can fall under the false notion that you are “Good with God”.
But the older I got, the more I understood that Christianity is about the relationship you have with God rather than how many sins you can avoid. Hence the answer to my question was no, I was not “Good with God”.
It also doesn’t help if you are in a Christian community, such as the church, where people don’t know you on a deep and personal level because they too might mistake your morality for spirituality. You need to be accountable to someone- that ‘someone’ needs to know you, your intentions and your heart.
Put in the work!
To get out of this comfortable bubble I had created, I had to ensure that I was constantly working on my relationship with God. Staying connected is a continuous battle, do not be mistaken. Over the past five years especially, there were times I felt that I couldn’t be any closer to God, it’s an amazing feeling. But there were also times when I felt like I couldn’t be any further away, and honestly, these have been some of the darkest points of my life.
If I wasn’t communicating with God, He couldn’t tell me what I needed to work on, what I was doing that displeased Him or what I could do that would please Him: He couldn’t tell me anything!
I think it’s worth mentioning that your relationship with God is just that: YOUR relationship. Don’t feel obliged to follow strict methods of worship, be free, express yourself to God in the way that feels best for you. Just like with any other relationship, identify where your points of neglect are and work on them.
Here a are a few ways I managed to get myself back on track that I believe made it so much easier for me to hear God’s voice. You’ll find as you read that I don’t have a list of never-heard-of techniques, because the reality is that you don’t need any fancy methods, you just need the faith and desire to put in the effort.
This was a major difficulty for me. I could talk to God throughout the day and during normal activities, but when it came to setting aside some time to rid myself of all distractions and communicate in what I view as a more respectful manner, I struggled.
So, at the start of the year, I set myself a challenge. I had to become a bit more creative in my methods. I spend the larger proportion of my day in front of computer screens or playing with numbers, so whenever I get the chance to scribble down some words on paper with a pen, it’s a very refreshing and relaxing experience (weird, yes, I know, don’t judge me). To help strengthen my prayer life, I started writing letters to God, I set myself the challenge of writing to God at least once a day and it was crazy how easy it became to sit down and communicate with God.
It’s important to remember that prayer is a form of communication and communication is a two-way thing: give God time to respond, be still and listen.
The chances are you won’t hear from God immediately, in the meantime you might want to find a trusted person to hold yourself accountable to, to help keep you on track, answer some questions you might have, encourage you in your journey and act as a mentor.
This could also be someone that you choose to share God with, almost like a study buddy- someone that helps you to keep your zeal and momentum high.
3: Devotionals, Plans & Books
I enjoy reading so for me this was pretty obvious. Nothing you can read will be better than The Word itself, but these materials can help to break the word down into smaller chunks that are easier to digest.
You can find thousands of Bible Plans on the You Version Bible App as well as devotionals that focus on specific books, characters and topics. You can also find devotionals and plans in magazine form such as UCB Word for Today and Premier’s Voice of Hope. Some other books I have enjoyed reading are Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling and Joyce Meyer’s Power Thoughts Devotional. In terms of regular books, here are a few that I recommend:
4: Refresh your memory
If you don’t already take notes during sermons, start, if you do, make sure you actually reread and review your notes. If the message was important enough to write down, it’s worth reminding yourself of it. Reflection is always promoted around here!
5: Write it all down
I write down my prayer points in a short list and I don’t look at the list again for months or sometimes even years. Then when I look back at the list and I can tick things off, I am reminded of how much God has blessed me, especially at times when it feels like God isn’t present. Writing down and often sharing my testimony is helpful too- sometimes you just need to remind yourself of all that God has done in order to keep the faith and trust that He can and will do even more! Count your blessings!
6: Study Bible
I’ll be honest with you; sometimes I read the Bible and I am in awe, other times I read the Bible and I feel as though I haven’t learnt or gained anything. Using a study Bible is helpful because it can point out things you haven’t noticed, put certain verses into perspective and improve your overall understanding. Study Bibles with topical messages are even better when you have specific questions and you don’t know where in the Bible to look. The particular study Bible I use is The NKJV Women’s Study Bible by Thomas Nelson.
We all know the influence music has on our emotions. Sometimes we’re in environments or mental states that make it very difficult to whip out a Bible or pray, but music is very easily accessible these days and extremely powerful! Make yourself a playlist and worship through music.
I would also like to add that one can never really be “Good with God”, it is a relationship that will continuously need improving, but be steadfast on the right path!
7 is the number of completion so this is where this VERY long post ends. I hope it was helpful! Stay blessed!