August 12, 2015

What To Do When Your Spiritual "Low Battery" Light is Flashing

Hello, sweet girl! I promise we'll get back to bite-sized studies and our fruit of the Spirit series soon, but I wanted to share this post with you now. That's partly because I'm a little obsessed with spiritual object lessons, and partly because I'm still working on patience...both on having this quality of the fruit of the Spirit and on the post about it!

So a couple weeks ago we were "experiencing technical difficulties" in our GALs (Girls And Ladies) Sunday School class.

Which is to say that the DVD we were trying to watch was playing, but it was jerky. It kept starting and stopping in maddening fashion. It was working, but not well, and not effectively.

I tracked down our church's resident tech expert, who took one look at our set-up and said, "Oh, I see what the problem is." As it turned out, the laptop we were using to play the DVD wasn't plugged into an outlet. The computer was running off its own battery, which had just enough power to function, but not enough to function properly. 

My older daughter, whom we'd recruited to be in our-house tech girl, said, "Oh, I saw that light flashing, but I didn't know what to do about it." Once Mr. Tech Guy plugged the laptop into the main outlet, the DVD ran like it was supposed to.

All during the rest of our class session, I thought about how this is the way we are in our walk with God. We try to run off our internal spiritual battery, and everything plays just fine for awhile. We're charged up by past worship, past Bible study, past fellowship, past connections with God. But before too long, we get jerky. We can function, but not well, and not effectively. 

And that's when we need to recharge by plugging back into The Power Source.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5 TNIV) 
Here are some steps I know I need to take when my spirit's low-battery light starts flashing.(And before it starts blinking would be even better.)

Pause. Before we could fix our hit-and-miss DVD, we had to stop the playback. Before you fill up your car's gas tank, you have to turn off the engine. I'm not suggesting that recharging your soul requires you to quit all activity and sit still for an hour. But you need to hit pause on some of your activity, if only for 10 minutes. You can be moving (I recharge while I'm out walking every morning), but your mind needs to be free to go to God. Got a run you need to get in or a lawnmowing gig with your name on it? Either would be a great time to power up your eternal battery.
"Cease striving and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalm 46:10 NAS)
Pray. If prayer is something you'd label one of your weaker spiritual disciplines, you're not alone. I felt the same way for a long time and still do to some extent. But like most things worth doing, prayer is something that gets better, stronger, and easier with practice. To borrow from Nike: just do it. Prayer is simply a conversation with a God Who is ready, willing, and extremely pleased to hear from you! You don't have to use certain words or a formula. But, if you're like me and your mind tends to wander when you pray, following this P.A.T.H. might help.
  • Praise ~ Tell God Who He is. (He knows; the affirmation and reminding are for us.) Say what He is--awesome, creative, loving, good, kind, compassionate, and on and on. Or say Who He is using His names. (You can find an alphabetical post-in-progress here to get you started.)
  • Admit ~ Confess your sins to God. (He knows; the admitting is for us.) Sin--anything that misses the mark of God's justly perfect standard--gets in between us and God. True confession and repentance (turning away from that sin) clear the path for communication and relationship.
  • Thank ~ Tell God what you're grateful for. Not only are thankful people happier people, but this step keeps your prayer from being just a list of requests and demands.
  • Help ~ Ask God for help, for yourself and for others.
The point of this P.A.T.H. is not (not!) to make prayer ritualistic. I'm not suggesting in any way that prayer has to follow a certain formula to "work." I use this P.A.T.H. to keep my mind and spirit on track. (And also because I am something of an organization freak.)
"You will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:12, 13)
Plant. Read God's Word. Download a daily Scripture app. Choose verses you want to come back to again and again. Write them out. Speak them aloud (which, BTW, the enemy hates). Memorize them so they'll be buried in your mind and heart for future reference. Need a method for memorizing Scripture that has worked for at least one other person? Here's one to try.
"I have stored up Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You." (Psalm 119:11 ESV)
Praise. Worship God. Sing to Him. Listen to Christian music in the car or when you're getting ready in the morning. (Current favorites in our house: anything from Hawk Nelson or Lauren Daigle.) Go to church and lift your voice or your hands in His honor, even when you don't feel like it...especially when you don't feel like it.Tell somebody else what God is doing in your life.
"I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory. Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands." (Psalm 63:2-4)
Participate. Sign up to work in the church nursery. Serve lunch at a homeless shelter. Commit to a Bible study--and follow through to the end. Go to church instead of sleeping in on Sunday morning. Find a spiritual mentor. Spend time with other believers.
"My friends, what good is it for one of you to say that you have faith if your actions do not prove it? Can that faith save you? So then, as the body without the spirit is dead, also faith without actions is dead." (James 2:14,26 GNT)
Pursue. Keep looking for God. Notice His handiwork in creation. Listen for His voice in the words of other Christians and in song lyrics and in the still, small voice nudging your spirit. Run away from anything that pulls you from God, and run toward the Source of every good thing.
"O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirst for You, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings. I stay close to you; Your right hand upholds me." (Psalm 63:1,7,8)
 How do you recharge spiritually? 
I'd love to have you share your step (it doesn't have to start with a "P"!).
Leave a comment, post on Facebook, or send an email!