Do you feel stuck in a rut in your spiritual life? It happens to all of us. We experience times of strong spiritual growth and then life starts to get in the way — we bury our heads in a mountain of “to-dos” and the consistent work of spiritual growth gets sidelined. It can be extremely frustrating and defeating. What can you do to recharge your spiritual life?
Counting the Cost
Jesus warned his disciples before they decided to follow him that it was going to be hard, sacrificial work. He never offered a simple, painless way to God. Free? Yes! Easy? Don’t count on it.
Jesus said, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). In other words, “Follow me and you might end up homeless.” He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). In other words, “Follow me and some people are going to want to crucify you.”
Jesus seemed to be saying that his spiritual path to God is not for wimps. Spiritual growth requires sacrifice and hard work.
Honestly? The most rewarding experiences in my life have always come after prolonged periods of hard work.
Every ounce of my formal education (bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, Master’s of Divinity, Doctorate in Preaching) required every brain cell working to full capacity. I tell people that I don’t drink because alcohol kills brain cells and I need every brain cell I can get!
Raising kids is extremely rewarding, and hard work — really, really, really hard work!
Pastoring a growing thriving church? Extremely Rewarding, and hard work!
Helping other people grow in Christ? Rewarding and hard work!
You get the point.
So, upfront and completely transparent, full-disclosure — Getting unstuck is going to take some effort. But, if you’re willing to put in the work, it will be the most rewarding thing you do.
Five Ways to Get Unstuck
Here are five practical things you can do to get unstuck in your spiritual life.
1. Take some extended time for deep, self-reflection.
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).
Why are you stuck? It may be that there is some aspect to your life you have not surrendered to the Lord. It may be some sin that you can’t shake. It may be that your focus is fuzzy. It may be that your work-family-recreation time is out of balance.
Whatever is derailing you is not always immediately obvious. You need to invest considerable time in self-reflection, allowing God to gently reveal the problem areas.
2. Shake things up.
This was one of Jesus’ favorite things to do. When the disciples got too comfortable he would shake things up. The crowds were growing and the ministry was taking off — Jesus said, “Let’s leave this place and go somewhere else” (Mark 1:38). What? Why would you do that?
Sometimes your spiritual system needs a quick shock to get it going again. Do something you’ve never done before. Put yourself in an uncomfortable place that stretches you. Force yourself out of your comfort zone.
God wants to grow you, but he can’t do it while you sit in your cozy, little mountain cabin. He wants to take you outside of that cabin and give you the experience of your life as you jump off the cliff!
3. Get rid of distractions.
Declutter your life. Simplify. Ask yourself, “What do I really need?”
When Jesus sent his disciples out on their own for the first time he told them, “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt” (Mark 9:8-9). Jesus was a minimalist. The point really was that he wanted his disciples to depend completely on God.
You might be stuck because you have become so good at navigating life that you just don’t feel any real angst — no urgent need for God. You’ve got this. You and all the stuff you’ve accumulated have got everything under control.
God calls you to get rid of anything that is keeping you from feeling the acute need for HIM.
4. Help someone else.
Jesus said that the most important thing in your spiritual life is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind ; and, Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
Loving God is inextricably tied to loving others. You can’t separate the two.
James said that this is God’s definition of true religion: “… to look after orphans and widows in their distress …” (James 1:27). John said, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17).
Over and over again the biblical writers equate spiritual maturity with loving and serving others, and especially those who are less fortunate than ourselves.
You might be stuck because you have stopped serving others and are now living primarily for yourself and a very small self-interest group.
5. Have a long, honest conversation with God.
Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7).
Ask Jesus to help you get unstuck. Ask with tears in our eyes. Ask again and again and again. Never stop asking.
Share your frustrations, fears, weaknesses, struggles, and sorrows. He longs to hear your heart cry. He will be faithful to hear your prayers and heal your life. He will lift you up and inspire you to new vistas of spiritual growth.
Paul, writing about spiritual growth, said, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Cor. 3:6).
Plant seeds, water like crazy — and then stand back and ask God to make it grow!