We live in a “doing” culture. When things seem broken, we fix them. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. If there was a problem, yo, we solve it (let the reader understand).
Our culture respects hard work, and it should. Some of our favorite stories are those in which the protagonist sheds his or her rags for riches through a mix of fortune and hard work. Dear to our culture are the biographies of those achievers who have pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps (let the reader of a different generation understand).
The problem is, we often carry this kind of mindset into the realm of our faith. When we feel broken, distant from God, like we’re not as far along on the path of faith as we think we should be, we search for something we can “do” to make things better. We turn to the world of Christian publishing, where there are literally thousands of titles offering to help us be more like Jesus, think more like Jesus, lead more like Jesus, and so on. We tell ourselves that if we would just read an extra chapter of the Bible per day or serve more in the church, we would start feeling closer to our Father.
Such things sound reasonable, but in actuality they merely offer “doing” solutions to a “being” problem. What do I mean? I mean that instead of pressing closer to the Lord when we struggle, consuming our minds with who He is, what He has done, what He will do, what He promises, and His unchanging character—in other words, “being” with Him—we try to undertake a series of actions designed to fix our own spiritual problems. We do what we’ve been conditioned to do since our formative years, namely, we attempt to pull ourselves up by our own spiritual bootstraps.
I want to remind you that one of Satan’s great tools of deception is the counterfeit. He waves the banner of freedom, yanking on patriotic strings that resonate in the deepest parts of us, in an attempt to thwart God’s design for gender. There’s no bigger fan of unconditional love than Satan, at least when he is attempting to convince a culture that God’s design for marriage is outdated and exclusionary. And you better believe the devil, in an attempt to keep you from sitting quietly with the Lord and sharing your heart daily, will be the loudest voice in your life screaming, “Do more for God! Do more for the church! Just do more!” Broken men lie on the bed of such beliefs clutching their best intentions.
I recently decided that of all the spiritual disciplines I observe, none will be more important than sitting and talking with my Lord. Instead of doing things to “make me stronger,” I just want to be a better friend and devoted follower of a God who has always been faithful to me and who is always right. I want to spend time thanking Him, telling Him what’s got me feeling flustered or angry, sharing with Him where I feel like I’m coming up short. Sometimes I just sit in silence and fight off a flood of thoughts as I learn to wait for Him to speak to me.
If you find yourself in a season of spiritual struggle, may I challenge you to try to “do” less for God and “be” with Him more? He didn’t create you because He needed your help getting things done. He created you to be in a relationship with Him, so that you may know the hope of His calling and the riches of His glorious inheritance.
Practice being with God, the much more difficult discipline of our time, and the doing will come.