Tonight I spent a long time trying to explain the difference between wants and needs to my oldest daughter.
I don’t think she got it.
She was very emotional and intently focused on what she wanted (a blankie to sleep with because her sister had just gotten a new one).
Upon reflection, I think that maybe this is how most of our conversations go with God. We go to him when we are emotional and intently focused rather than when we are objective and able to listen. Instead of seeking solitude (when we’re level-headed) we wait until there is a crisis in our life (when we are unstable).
The very words or deeper understanding that we need when life is upside-down is the very words or knowledge that probably can only be heard when life is not upside-down.
I feel strongly that we often run our spiritual life the way we run our day to day lives… reacting and responding to whatever is urgent. We don’t live in a culture that easily sets goals and priorities and sticks to them… we are always “tyrannized by the urgent.”
Somehow, however, we need to find the motivation and the strength to pursue God regularly rather than from crisis to crisis.
There are a lot of great books out there on the topic, such as The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer, Hearing God by Dallas Willard, Wasting Time with God by Klaus Issler, Celebration of the Disciplines by Richard Foster, True Spirituality by Francis Schaeffer and on and on.
The real point, though, is that we have to chart a course for spiritual growth. We have to take ownership of our own spiritual maturity and begin a journey of a thousand miles whether someone is walking with us, leading us or encouraging us. It is not dependent on others… it depends on us.
If there is any prayer that I would have in 2008 for Antioch, it would be that the men and women of our community would take ownership of their relationship with God and begin laboring over their own prayer lives and devotional lives regardless of what Antioch is or isn’t doing.
Nothing can make a bigger difference than the individual spiritual growth of those of us who call ourselves “Christians.”
And tomorrow I plan on picking up the conversation with my daughter again when the blankie has been forgotten… likewise, maybe God is waiting to pick up a conversation with us again when our emotions have subsided.