6 Helpful questions for our Christian Lives - question 1
Over the next few blog posts I will be looking at six questions about our Christian lives that are good for us to think about regularly. Reflecting on them can help provide shape and direction to the three dimensions of our Christian lives: Our life with God, Our life with God's people; and our life with the world around us. Unlike a checklist, these questions are designed to be open ended. Each of us is unique and we will each answer these questions in different ways. In fact at different times we will have different answers ourselves!
It is IMPORTANT to note that
These questions aren't a test.
You aren't going to be graded on the quality of your answers.
It is not about comparing yourself to some 'super Christian'
You will get the most benefit out of these questions if you can identify one or two simple things you can work on in the next few days. This is much better than spending hours creating a long list and then doing nothing!
Question One - How am I seeking God?
To seek God means to do something where your intention is to encounter God in some way. Now seeking is just the same as in any area of life - If I am seeking my car keys, I will do things that I think might put me in the vicinity of those keys; If I am seeking to meet a famous person, I will go to places I think they might be!
Now our first response to this question might be 'bother - I have been so distracted by everything going on about me that I haven't been seeking God'. And if that is your response DON'T immediately fall into guilt or condemnation - the GOOD thing is that you have identified what has been going on.
The second thing is to try and stop yourself immediately jumping to the things that you think you are supposed to do - get up at 5am each day for 1 hour of prayer, fast three times a week, memorize 30 verses from the bible......! For most of us these things are simply unattainable and if we try and do them we might succeed the first day, think about doing it the second day, feel guilty for not doing it the third day, and on the fourth day try hard to forget we ever had the plan in the first place.
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to attend a live in seminar with Dallas Willard about the Spiritual Life. During the 10 days there were lectures and discussions but we also got to practice various ways of seeking God. I will never forget that the first thing Dallas asked us to do was to go to bed early and get 10 hours sleep!
If you have ever tried to have a prayer time at the end of the day and then woken up the next morning wondering whether you got past the first line of your prayer, maybe the next simple thing you can do to seek God is to go to bed early! If we are already tired and overstretched, adding activities isn't going to be sustainable.
Once you are finding yourself a bit more rested, a simple thing you can do is add intentionality to something you already do.
When you go to a church service, make it your aim to seek God in the service. Think about it in the car on the way. As you walk in the door, pray a quiet prayer 'God I want to meet with you in this service'.
When you are taking a walk or a bike ride, ask God to help you meet with God in creation.
When you are on the train, close your eyes and pray quietly - God I want to know you more.
When you are listening to some worship music from the 70's, 80's, 90's or even this century, sing along with the intention of wanting to meet with God.
Another simple thing to do is to think about previous times in your life when you have felt close to God. What activities did you engage in in the lead up to that experience? Does that give you an idea of something you might do in the next few days?
Two final thoughts:
It is our responsibility to seek God, it is God's responsibility to decide how He will meet us. So we shouldn't limit God by our preconceptions or be disappointed if we don't meet God in particular ways.
Once we have decided how we are going to seek God (or even just how we are going to add intentionality), it may take some practice. That's ok - that's how it is in every aspect of life.