Many years ago, I was struggling with depression and a deep sense of abandonment by God. We had just left a home church we had helped build for 10 years. Over the years, what started as a beautiful, supportive community slowly changed into a judgmental and legalistic community. As a church, we were more concerned with what everyone was doing and what holidays they were celebrating rather than God’s grace, mercy, and peace. God’s beauty was lost and buried under rules and gossip.
The day I finally refused to take any more spiritual abuse, my whole inner being felt shattered and my beliefs of God’s goodness were on life support. Everything was foggy. I didn’t even know if God existed anymore. My soul knew better…it was just very weak.
Throughout my years of healing and growth, I discovered I didn’t know how to connect well with God. In the zealousness for being free from rituals and knowing about God, no one taught me how to “feel” God. I had a lot of head knowledge but very little heart knowledge (wisdom). I felt like a baby believer all over again. From my previous experience, I learned I didn’t want to start something wonderful only for my beliefs to be slowly pulled in a destructive direction.
That’s when I started to study the ancient prophets and believers. I discovered their dedication to the practice of spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines or spiritual practices are “practices that by design can lead to life transformations”. Their purpose is to help our spiritual growth as Christ followers and to deepen our relationship with God. It’s like exercise for the soul. Even Jesus who was fully God and man practiced spiritual disciplines throughout His walk on earth.
However, spiritual disciplines can be destructive if we don’t do them for the right reason. Are we fasting to make God love us more? Do we feel more righteous than our neighbors if we give more money? It all depends on your God narrative. A truthful God narrative can clear up the illusions and misconceptions about God and clear up the fog. Just as I learned from my disastrous home church experience, why we do things is very important to God.
What exactly is a God narrative? Your God narrative is the story that you tell yourself about God.
- Where is God?
- What is God doing?
- How does God see me?
- How does God see the world?
Everyone has a God narrative. Your church has a God narrative. Your family has a God narrative. And you have one, too.
Evaluating and understanding the beliefs you carry about God can help you to grow in your closeness to God. Ask yourself the questions above and see if they match what God says about Himself and you.
In His eyes, you are
- Beloved. (James 2:5)
- Worthy. (Luke 12:6-7)
- Enough. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
- Valuable. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- Precious. (Exodus 14:14)
- Made new and full of the Holy Spirit. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
- Transforming. (Romans 12:2)
- Loved. (Isaiah 43:4)
How does that feel when you read that list? Do you see yourself that way? The Creator of the Universe sees you….yes, YOU…just like that. No matter what anyone else has ever said and no matter what you have done…that’s how God sees you.
And there is nothing else that can change that. Nothing you do can make Him love you more or less. He is love so He can only love. Yes, He can also be angry and sad and well-pleased, yet at His heart, He is love and Jesus already took the punishment for your sins. Confessing sins to Him is not for His sake (He already knows), it’s for your sake so you can see where you have strayed and so you can learn from your sin and turn from it.
Again, nothing we do can make God love us more. The point of spiritual disciplines is to connect closer to God so we can become more like Jesus. That’s what we are called to do. Be more like Jesus…
How can we become more like Jesus? We need to know who Jesus was, is, and will forever be and commit to letting the Holy Spirit take our personality or spirit and transform it into a mirror of Jesus. We will never be the perfect reflection of Him yet we can be the best rendition that we are capable of.
Are you ready to start this journey with me? Each month I am going to explore a spiritual discipline, explain it, and how God’s people demonstrated it in the Bible. I will also be focusing my walk on that discipline. Let’s share in this walk together…it’s easier when we walk side by side as we slowly transform into all that God wants us to be.
Sinking in: Look up the above verses about what God says about you, thank HIm for seeing you that way, and ask Him to let you see yourself that way.