5 Responses When God Seems Distant

posted in: Christian Life | 8

So, you’re in a spiritual rut. Your inspiration’s gone. And you’re not sure why. Just last week, you were rolling, investing in your marriage, being intentional with your kids, living with passion and purpose in your work.

But right now, the best word to describe things is “meh.” Everything’s a struggle. Your inspiration is gone.

And more times than not, these ruts are compounded by Super Christians. They come in different shapes and sizes. The girl who posts new pics of her journal every day, filled with new insights about how the Lord spoke to her. Or maybe the guy who lives on the mountaintop and sees your apathy as a lack of faith. Regardless of form, the message is the same: you’re not trying hard enough.

Also regardless of form, my attitude towards them is the same: disgust. The unholy kind. The kind that involves a gut punch and a roundhouse kick, not necessarily in that order.

For the rest of us normal Christians, how do we respond when inspiration is low? Ups and downs are inevitable. I won’t pretend to offer you a “7 steps to get outta that rut.” I also won’t pretend to trivialize something more serious than a lack of inspiration – clinically-diagnosed depression and anxiety, for example – by offering a quick fix. The church has minimized serious mental conditions for years, much to the peril of many Christians. To those mired in such a battle, I want to affirm you and encourage you to find help, in the form of counseling or medication or a combination of both.

Here’s what I will do: give you practical steps that have helped me. You might find one or all of them helpful. Use what works. Throw out the rest. Here we go.

1. Disrupt your routine.

Routines throw us into autopilot. And what we need is something new.

If you work from home, pack up your junk and try a local coffee shop. If you spend time with God in the morn, try a different time of day. Attend a conference in your respective field. Changing my schedule and hearing inspiring voices was a holy kick in the pants.

Mark Batterson says, “Change of pace plus change of space equals change of perspective.” I love that quote. You should apply it.

2. Keep showing up.

Sometimes what we call a spiritual rut or absence of inspiration is really resistance. Resistance is an invisible (but very real) force that seeks to destroy your destiny. I call this force evil, darkness or Satan.

Naturally, resistance also wants to throw poo on your faith.

Resistance wants to destroy your destiny. To combat it, keep showing up.

The only effective response to this force is to keep showing up. You don’t feel like being intimate with your spouse or a listening ear for your kids? You don’t feel like opening Scripture, attending life group or being present at work?

Great. Show up anyway. Who knows? Inspiration might meet you there.

3. Recognize the difference between resistance and burnout.

If you’re not self-aware, you could mistake a spiritual rut or lack of inspiration for emptiness or burnout. This would be a mistake of epic proportions.

Continuing to show up when you’re burnout amplifies the problem.

What’s the difference between resistance and emptiness? Increased anxiety. Growing pessimism (and at times cynicism). Hopelessness. A desire to withdraw. And listening to hit songs from the 1980s (easily the worst decade in the last century, or ever).

If you’re empty, you don’t need to keep showing up. You need to recharge. Do something that fills your soul.

4. Find “non-spiritual” ways to connect with God.

For me, few activities are more spiritual than running, golfing or working out. These things recharge my heart and mind. What things do that for you? Fishing’s not for me. I suck at painting. But if these hobbies give you life, they should be a regular part of your rhythm.

We probably wouldn’t label running or fishing “spiritual,” which is a shame. God is present everywhere and in all things, if we have the eyes to see.

5. Laugh.

As a general rule, you take yourself too seriously. I do too. We’re so concerned about finding our God-given purpose or raising healthy, successful kids or climbing the metaphorical ladder that we forget to have fun. Just look at how sensitive we’ve become as a culture. We’re offended if someone disagrees with us. We’re also offended if they agree with us.

Some of us need to loosen our cheeks (the rear ones) and start enjoying life.

Humor is an effective way to accomplish this.

I would love to hear from you.

When you’re struggling to find inspiration, what helps you? Leave a comment below.

Grace and peace, friends.

Follow Frank Powell:

Frank is a contributing writer and editor for the blog at Bayside church. He is also a husband, father and Jesus-follower. Occasionally he plays golf. Often he drinks coffee.

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8 Responses

  1. Dawn Street

    When I am in a spiritual rut, I work in my yard. There is something about being with nature and having my bare hands in the dirt that restores my soul. I look at the beauty of God’s creation, watch my dog play with my cats and listen to the birds sing and remember that he knows when the sparrow falls and He surely watches over me.

    I am 71 years old, almost 72. My husband has been diagnosed with Vascular Parkinsonism and Virtual Tremors. He also has heart problems and is a beat up, used up old carpenter who loves the Lord and takes one day at a time. I was always active in the church but now I am doing good to make it to worship and Sunday School class. Aging has taken its toll. I miss the activity of my past. As a teen, I sang on a local Bible program on the radio and for a men’s Bible class. I taught Sunday School, worked in Bible School (even took vacation days to do it. It was fun), went as a “sponsor” to church camp and on youth trips with my kids, sang in the church choir and in an “ensemble”. I was a Christian social worker and found that was an oxymoron in some circles as most social workers are humanists. My clients and my patients actually asked me to pray for them. I still have people come up to me to ask me to pray for them. I have learned that God never relinquishes His call on my life – or anyone’s life. I will join my husband and take it one day at a time. That is really all we can count on – today.

    Thanks for the article.

    • Frank Powell

      Dawn, thanks so much for sharing. Your years of service to God’s kingdom are inspiring. I hope I’m still inspired to seek the Lord and serve in my 70s. I pray for you and your husband. May your days be filled with peace.

  2. Miguel Cavazos

    Hahahaha!!! ” Laugh… Some of us need to loosen our cheeks (the rear ones). ” This article is EPIC!

    • Frank Powell

      Miguel, some folks are a touch stiff. Myself included. Thanks for the comment!

    • Frank Powell

      Crystal, thanks for reading and commenting! Blessings.

  3. Donna

    Loved your article and stumbled upon it at just the right time. Looking forward to taking daily life so seriously. 🙂
    Thank you!

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