As we moment-by-moment live out our faith and belief system, what feeds us so that our relationship with the Lord is fresh and refreshed? Anything and everything comes at us, and challenges us to hold steady in the storms around us. When we are worn and weary in the other areas I have written about (physically, mentally, & emotionally), our spiritual lives are impacted as well.
“You are made up of a body, a mind, and a spirit. Three unique parts make a whole. Whole is what your body thrives to become. Your body seeks to remember its disjointed relationship with your mind and spirit, and in doing so remember the sanctity of wholeness. It would stand to reason, however, if you can be whole, then you can also be the opposite of whole. You can be fragmented or broken…”Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD
Most of us might be nodding our heads when we read Dr. Dalton-Smith’s words. We have felt or been fragmented and broken and come to our faith looking for healing and help to restore us. When we were far from God, we may have been less aware of why life wasn’t working for us as we hoped or needed but less aware of how sin separated us from Him and affected every part of our life and all relationships. But if or when we made the choice to come before Him and acknowledge that we couldn’t do life on our own and apart from Him, we started to seek greater wholeness and discovered there was more fragmentation and brokenness than we had been aware of.
We may have sought discipleship, a Bible study, or even counseling when all those things started to come to light – all good things, but there was more to discover if we were going to gain wholeness and repair the spiritual rest deficits we had (may still have).
“The spirit experiences brokenness in the form of spiritual trauma, anger toward God, a lack of belief in God, and feeling a disconnectedness from God. When any one of these three (body, mind, spirit) experience brokenness, it affects the function of the other areas. Spiritual rest is where the broken places mend. Rest holds up the fragments, naked and unashamed before God. Rest acknowledges the disconnection and draws near. Your faith and relationship with God affect your ability to feel well rested.”Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD
So, what does Dr. Smith list as evidence of a spiritual rest deficit?
- Feeling decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment
- Feeling helpless, hopeless, trapped, or defeated
- Feeling like life is a total waste of energy and having no motivation
- Feeling distant from God
- Experiencing suicidal thoughts and depression
- Feeling numb and apathetic
We get to these places for more than one or two reasons, some outside of our control, and some because we want what we want when we want it. Ugh!
“Over time throughout our lives, the Self stakes out its own territory within us to assure getting its own way, ordering our world to its likings. It has imbedded assumptions and privileges in our psyche; there is a momentum to its desires, motives, and presence in us.”John Eldredge
Even as believers those things can be there by how we believe every aspect of our faith experience should go. We may be consistently doing all the things we have heard we are to do and think we should do and yet there is very little intimacy with the Lord developing along the way. We may go through prayer requests and lists in a rote manner, having a one-way conversation with the Lord without ever pausing and sitting in his presence listening to what He might want us to see or hear. Sometimes it means just sitting in his presence and letting Him enfold us while we say nothing. It also means not simply going through a Bible study or Bible reading program but meditating on what we read. It’s less about what we know and more about what is engrafted in us and available to apply moment by moment.
One of the things that revolutionized my level of intimacy with the Lord was when I read a book by Sandra Wilson in 1999 entitled Into Abba’s Arms (Finding the Acceptance You’ve Always Wanted). The author shared about times she spent with the Lord, and it was as if she were journaling a letter to Him and then pausing to listen for whether He gave her a sense of a response and writing that down in a different colored ink to see if it stood up to a biblical context. She wrote about how those times began to fill “a hole in her soul” as she came to recognize Christ’s desire for us to move closer to Him.
We have received so many faulty messages about ourselves and Him that we can miss that truth even though the Bible makes clear his desire for a close personal relationship with Him where we are wholly authentic without any fear of rejection or loss of his love for us.
“God wants us close to him even more than we want to be close to him! How do I know? Because he plants a part of himself, the Holy Spirit, in each of his beloved children. God’s Spirit acts, in part, like a homing device, sometimes beeping softly, other times shrieking deafeningly in our hearts to direct us back to where we belong – to God’s eternal embrace.”Sandra Wilson
I still recall an afternoon where I was sitting in a women’s conference in Chicago when the speaker suggested we take time in silence before the Lord to hear Him and even ask Him what He thought of us or wanted us to hear from Him. It felt like a risky thing to do given that I was cued in on my weaknesses and I was sure He knew many more I had not even recognized. But what I discovered was that He wanted to remind me of his love for me, his grace and mercy for all those weaknesses and failures even after coming to accept Him.
“God is much easier to get to know when you take religion out of the equation. As much as He would love for all of us to be holy, His first request is simply to love Him. Love is not religious; love is relational. Do you remember what it was like when you were trying to get to know your lover? The long hours of talking into the night and the endless love notes all seemed as natural as humidity in Alabama.”Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD
This is the relationship that moves us into spiritual rest and mends the brokenness and fragmentation that erodes our spiritual selves. This is the sanctuary that can restore us if we will lay aside what pulls us into other things and practice being in his presence. It’s then we will discover He has been waiting in that place for us all along.
“Sanctuary is where we lay down our fight and rest. In the process, we find our way back home to a relationship with God.”Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD