In a conversation with my young ladies group this week, we talked about being in a spiritual rut. A quick poll showed that the girls fell into one of two positions: a) doing all the "good Christian things" while still feeling disconnected from God or b) choosing not to keep doing the "good Christian things" when they are feeling disconnected from God. If you think about it, you have probably found yourself in one or both of these categories over the years.
We talked about what might help us move out of apathy and towards connection. We discussed things that have helped in the past: youth camp, favorite worship songs, fellowship with others...and I asked them what I could do to support their next steps. I can't wave a magic wand and give them the spiritual highs they remember. If I can't do it for myself, I certainly can't do it for them!
The majority of the work is theirs and it's personal. There is no recipe or handbook, no fail-safe instruction guide for how to climb out of a rut with God. But there is a place for community, for shared experiences, for bearing each others burdens. While it's not our role to fix things for others, there is a call to love our neighbors.
Living in a developing nation, there are signs all around indicating where the development dollars are coming from. Government trucks donated by the European Union, firetrucks donated from Taiwan, billboards sponsored by the UN...all point to neighbors who are investing in the growth of this young nation.
I see parallels here. Even if the UN or the US have completely benevolent motives behind their investment (which is unlikely), their desires for Belize shouldn't supersede those of Belize itself. My best intentions for these young ladies can't be more than their own investment in their spiritual growth.
Being stagnant is characterized by lack of development, advancement, or progressive movement: i.e. a stagnant economy. It means inactive, sluggish, or dull. If Belize is to resist becoming a stagnant nation, it will need to actively push for progress, advancement and movement. It will need to have an outflow, not just taking in from outside sources, but contributing to its global neighbors as well.
The same goes for the young ladies, for myself and for you. Are we allowing what's been invested in us to bear fruit? Are we using that fruit to benefit others? Or are we inactive, sluggish, spiritually dull? Are we always on the receiving end, never pushing for own growth or investment in others?
"Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
One way to fight stagnation is in service to others. Another is getting up early and practicing the spiritual disciplines that you're normally too lazy to do. For someone else, it might be taking a day or a week to truly prioritize your faith walk, instead of cramming it into 90 minutes on a Sunday morning. We, each of us, need to find that out for ourselves; and not just once in our lives, but many times over.
God is unchanging. The difference between a vibrant relationship and a rut is the effort we are willing to put in.