Soul Sunday - Getting in with God Part I
I've been blessed to gain most of these treasured nuggets from my local church over the years. But the most important to me and the foundation of all these - is spending time with God. Personally - I need to spend regular time with God to be able to focus on maintaining a prayer life, practice humility and serving, aligning my life with his word and being generous.
I asked several friends on facebook if they'd like for me to share how and what ways I spend time with God, as people have asked me about it frequently in the past. When I sat down to begin writing - I thought about a journal entry I wrote about one year ago exactly.
So I'm wondering, what was so different last time I felt closer to God? I truly enjoyed feeling encompassed in his presence, and felt so lead, full, and satisfied with all he provided me with. Was it praying, worship, service, or all the above? Will I ever get there again? Do I feel to far gone to catch where I was? Or do I feel differently about my season and relationship with God? Or do I feel so guilty I'm mistaken it for either? All I know is, I love God. I want God. I really do. I know things won't work right in my life until he's first...
This was something I posted on December 3, 2014. And I'm unsure why I was reminded of this during this paticular post - but I think it was because now - December 2015 - I'm back in that sweet spot with God. I feel closer to God - lead, full and content. So I tried to ask myself...what really was the difference? Why did I feel so out of God's loop and distanced from him?
Then I realized before I can GIVE suggestions on how to improve time with God - I'd like to first address some barriers we all may have, or experienced in one season or another, that prevents us from being able to even establish or re-establish a relationship with God. These barriers include:
- Inconsistent time with God - I see my relationship with God like a relationship with anyone else. Let's take my husband for example - we are super tight, like A1, the Quan (am I using any of those right??) but in order for us to maintain that I talk to him every day. I inquire about his needs, praise him for his awesomeness, and share my inner and deepest thoughts with him. In my time with God - we also need regular time, time to inquire about his word, praise him, and share our thoughts. When we lack this - it's like calling a distant family member who we haven't spoke to in years - it can be a bit awkward.
- Lack of prayer life - This piggybacks on the prior. I believe prayer is one way of communicating with God. I also believe journaling and meditating are also ways to communicate. If we lack this communication - we are most likely relying on ourselves to resolve problems, using our own devices (that can be a nightmare) or even worse - we worry, get depressed, or feel hopeless about circumstances. I believe these things can pull us away even more from trying to build a relationship with God.
- Aligning your life with ANYTHING: Simply put - I believe when I align my life with what God's word says - that I'm reaffirming my faith in a particular area and being strengthened. But when I align my life with what the world tells me - I can easily start putting negative, hurtful, and sinful thoughts into my life. This can cause a vicious cycle of being negative, harboring shame or guilt about it, beating myself up more with more negative and hurtful things, etc. etc. the cycle repeats.
- Being selfish - I hate to say it but when I'm super 'busy' and only focused on my life - I become desensitized to anyone else's problems or so self absorbed I can't see past my own problems. This is one of the most common and challenging barriers. I usually know that I'm struggling with this by looking at my actions lately. Have I helped anyone genuinely, without expecting anything in return? Have I sacrificed my time, efforts, or resources to assist with something outside of myself? Have I served anyone lately? Have I sent any cards to friends or family just to say hi? thank you? love you? thinking of you? Have I reached out to a hurting co-worker? Have I completed any acts of kindness?
- Shame and guilt - This is also a big barrier. I've experienced this many times as well. We fall away from God and then we begin to feel convicted and at times unfortunately condemned. Because we aren't aligning our life with God's word - we compare our service to others, or worse believe we are 'bad Christians' because we don't always do it right. Or get tired of pretending to have it all together. We believe we don't have it all together or don't feel worthy enough to return back to him. We try to throw ourselves together to fool God into thinking we are about his business - but we are not. We are actually trying to fake ourselves out to prove we are worthy enough to come to him with our desires and needs.
I know these barriers aren't what people wanted to read about it, today. But just like my above post from 2014. I failed to see WHY I couldn't get closer to God. But now that I'm closer to him than ever before - I look back and can answer this statement with the ALL of the above barriers. Think about your personal relationship with God? Can you relate to any of these barriers like me? If you can, rest assured, once you see the barrier - you'll be able to quickly find the tools to work with to improve. It's almost like needing to know the specific problem before getting the correct tools to solve it. This a therapeutic tool I use often.
In my PART TWO I will provide some tools that I have used over the years to make my time with God regular, meaningful and creative.