As we go through life, whether we realize it or not, we anticipate and even create assumed outcomes for various situations. This creeps into many areas of our lives, and I was caught by surprise awhile back when I realized I had lost a healthy sense of anticipation toward a specific thing. I’m going to be vulnerable here for a moment, so I hope this encourages and challenges you as you are going through what you are going through…
I read the Bible quite a bit. I don’t say that to brag, but it’s just the reality of what I do. As a pastor, I preach a sermon every Sunday, so it’s part of what I do to spend hours in the Bible each week. However, because it’s part of “what I do” it can very easily not become part of “who I am.” So much so, that when I come to the Bible personally and not for sermon prep, my mindset and approach can easily be one of guilt, duty or boredom. Because of that, I had been in a personal “funk” when it came to reading the Bible. I felt stale, and I was struggling to find something that hit me where I was. Maybe you can relate to having similar feelings toward your time in the Bible at various times.
I didn’t like feeling this way, but I just kept seeking personally with no powerful connection to what I was reading. As I was going through this season of seemingly empty, personal reading, without expecting it, IT happened… “What happened?” you might be thinking. Well, IT happened. That thing God does at just the right time when you don’t see IT coming.
IT is when He takes a verse and makes it come alive. Then, on top of that, He gives clear direction on a next step in response to that verse, and I move forward in my day as if I’ve never missed a beat in my personal journey with God.
As I’ve been reflecting on this moment in connection with the past few weeks, here are some quick thoughts that might be helpful to you when you feel as if you aren’t hearing from God.
Keep seeking even when you aren’t finding
I always caution people to not read the Bible out of guilt or obligation. However, we are human, our flesh will crave what it craves, and often times, we just simply don’t want to read the Bible. Nevertheless, if you can come to the point where you are honest enough with yourself and God to admit that you truly need Him, then you will see the importance of reading it regardless of how you feel. You will continue to seek even when it feels like religious routine. Don’t stop seeking Him personally. Hunger and thirst for His Word even when you feel as if nothing is satisfying… It could be that you are just an unexpected moment away from the breakthrough you’ve been waiting to receive, and if you give up, you may never receive it.
Each time won’t lead to the Heavens opening
I wish I could tell you that every time I read the Bible I feel as if God is speaking audibly to me. It would be much easier if I could give you a fail proof process that always leads to greater spiritual insight, but I don’t have one. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m yet to experience a season in life where each time I read the Bible I have a spiritual mountain top experience. Yes, there’s always some kind of takeaway, and some seasons are seemingly more clarifying than others, but I don’t always have a moment that’s going to alter my next 6 months or the rest of my life. Maybe I’m really messed up, or maybe, just maybe, God has taught me that He reveals more of Himself in certain moments to keep me on my toes, desperate for Him, and in a position to truly seek Him out even if it’s not an earth shattering moment each time.
Remove the noise that reduces your ability to hear
At the same time, I probably miss out on more moments simply because I’m not hearing Him well. The more stuff that is going through my head the less likely I am to clearly hear from Him. Sometimes, it’s helpful for me to pray before I read the Bible. This allows me to work through some things with God, clear my head, and then receive His words with a clearer mind. Other times though, my praying only leads me to become more aware of all that’s going on which leads me to completely miss what I later try to read. In these times, I switch the order, go straight to Scripture and let His direct words calm my perspective. Then, I’ll spend time in prayer. All of that to say, don’t get rigid with your routine and order. Identify the noise, let God calm your mind either through His Word or prayer, and keep pursuing Him regularly. In His perfect timing your breakthrough will come!