I’m sure most of you reading this understand the frustrations of a “NO CONNECTION” signal on your WiFi! Being connected and disconnected - on/off when it comes to the internet builds high levels of frustration! In fact I’ve often wondered in recent years what would happen if the internet went down even for just 1/2 a day! Catastrophe! Anyhow - not being able to access the internet is not the only high level of frustration you will experience through disconnection. What about when it seems that you are struggling to maintain a connection in your relationship with God? Here are some of the symptoms that will appear when you are trying to maintain your walk with God from a distance:
- Lack of peace. Big one. This leads to so many other areas of further frustration. When that peace is absent your whole life balance gets upset big time.
- Patience goes for a walkabout! I become 'short' and 'testy' with others and my disconnection is now showing quite clearly to those who know me well.
- Indecisive. Wavering in my decision making. Yes/No. Will I or won't I? Painful, especially when you have the responsibility of leading others.
- Bad decisions - one step further from our previous point. Because your connection with God has 'dropped out', you are now vulnerable to making some bad decisions. I've seen a number of people over the years make huge mistakes with the future direction of their lives, only years later to acknowledge with deep regret their disconnection with God had cost them and their loved ones dearly.
How is it that we get to this place of disconnection with God? Those of us that have experienced such a great salvation and have burned with flames of passion with a first love for God that felt like it was impossible to ever die out! Yet, like the proverbial frog swimming in the lukewarm water inside the pot, simmering away on a low heat - he is cooked! In other words - disconnection has a tendency to creep up on all of us. Here are some discoveries I've made over the years to practically help you to avoid this trap:
- Discipline. Disciplines are for our benefit and greatly help us to avoid a DISCONNECT. How is this? Disciplines are like the railway tracks the engine travels on - without them the train won't be going too far! Spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, daily bible reading - are like the train tracks that help us to stay connected to God. When we forsake these disciplines - it is much harder to stay connected with God. If you are struggling in this area - ask somebody to be your accountability partner to help you stay on track.
- Burning the candle at both ends. You can do it for a while but you won't get away with it forever without your health being negatively impacted. Once you begin to feel tired all the time - you enter into the 'bad decision' zone. Out of sheer exhaustion you are not thinking straight. From this place not many great decisions are made. Get to bed earlier and aim for a minimum 7 hours a night. 8 is ideal but you will at least begin to recover with a minimum of seven hours sleep a night. A new energy starts to come back into your life when you are not tired all the time and you are thinking much better and clearer.
- Real Relationships. Connected in 'real relationships' to other Christians. By 'real' I mean 'beyond veneer'. When you only have surface relationships in Christianity there is no accountability to living an authentic Christ-following life. It becomes too easy to slip into disconnection mode because there is no one around you to sharpen your edge. Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend". It is difficult to disconnect from God when you have a close friend who is going to be asking you some of the 'hard questions'.
- Grace of God - are you trying too hard? Someone once said - if you are struggling with maintaining a connection with God then perhaps you are trying too hard and not receiving enough of His grace. Romans 5:17 (NKJV) 17 For if by the one man's offence death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Stop trying harder and learn to be a better receiver of God's free gift of righteousness and the gift of His grace. This grace is AMAZING and will inspire you to connect with God with a deep affection and much gratitude
- Abide in the True Vine. Jesus called Himself the 'true vine' in John 15. He said his followers are like the branches that connect to himself as the Vine. Out of this organic union comes spiritual life. Why the phrase the 'true vine'? I believe Jesus was reminding us once again there are many 'counterfeit' vines that cry out for our connection. Once we get distracted and follow these counterfeits vines - they can never produce true spiritual life but rather they will 'zap us of our strength' instead of 'imparting strength' to us. Jesus also gave one of the great promises to answered prayer in this conversation of John 15:7 (NKJV) 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. To abide means 'to remain, to settle, to sit in place, to be joined in connection'. Learn to sit in God's presence. Learn to stop rushing here, there and everywhere. Learn to be a Mary and not a Martha. Sometimes you just have to STOP all your activity and regain your composure in order to just ABIDE. You never read anywhere of Jesus 'rushing' anywhere. He is the picture of total composure because He had learnt how to ABIDE in his Father's love.Prayer: Father may you fill my empty but hungry heart with yourself today. I don't want to go one minute longer without stopping and pausing in order to regain connection with You. As I hit the pause button right now I pray I will be filled with peace that abounds with love and grace. In Jesus name I ask these things. Amen