Have you ever been bored with Jesus? Or maybe you were just bored with your spiritual routine, both personal and corporate?
That was definitely me in the summer of 2015. Who am I kidding? That’s been me for much of my life, but I never knew what I could do to shake myself awake. I’ve been a Christ-follower since I was seven. I went to church, volunteered, and was involved in various groups and studies even when my parents weren’t “making me”. But sometimes I was just faking it until I made it.
I remember one Easter season when I was in college. I was really upset that I was feeling nothing. The resurrection story stirred nothing in me, and even though I tried to read different books and really think about how awful the crucifixion was, I didn’t feel very moved. How is the resurrection story boring?? Four or five years later, I remember being really stuck in some sin, and I wanted to feel God. I wanted him to snap me out of it; I wanted him to be angry with me. I wanted to feel anything, even if it was discipline, just to know he was even there. I tried reading the famous sermon by Jonathan Edwards “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” just so I would realize the gravity of my sin and experience such judgement that I would run back into the Father’s arms like the prodigal daughter I was. But I felt nothing.
My Christian life hasn’t always been that of boredom; I’ve had awesome moments throughout my life as a Believer that help me understand that my salvation is a sanctifying process and I get to renew my commitment as often as I’d like. Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift!
In late September of 2015, I e-mailed a few friends of mine, Ryan and Stephanie, who seemed to have been recently in a similar place as I was in: doing the same old thing but kind of done with the same old thing. Here is some of my e-mail to them:
"… God is up to something so huge in my life that I almost can't stand it. Like what the first Christmas Eve must have been like or something (ohhh, that sounded really good!). I'm finally seeing who the Father really is and what he wants, and I'm losing my mind. I've been settling for lukewarm Christianity without even realizing it. That's what so many churches are selling: practice a few of the spiritual disciplines, try not to hate yourself or others, and try to be "reasonably happy in this life" (see Serenity Prayer). But that's so way way way short of the mark, and I never knew it."
"I shrug off all the hard passages in the Bible that I don't know what to do with. Giving everything to follow Christ? Helping the poor? Praying without ceasing? I've been told for so long (either accidentally by the church or deliberately by the Father of Lies or by my own lazy self) that those passages and practices are only for the A+ students, not everyone. Face it, I'm no Mother Theresa."
"Which is complete crap right? We're all called to be A+ students, dang it!! So what's with the lies?? I'm so unbelievably jealous of authors and speakers and the spiritual greats and the relationship they have with God. They freaking get it. And I WANT THAT. And God wants it for all of us but still gives us free will. So I've been settling for pleasing the Elf on the Shelf God who watches me and makes me feel good and makes me feel bad, and that's crazy pants!"
"So yeah. The [group] conversation that Ryan started about when the church drives us nuts... more of those need to happen. Though for me, I'm not upset (at the moment); I'm just starving for the Christian life we're all called to have. Because it looks so awesome, right?? I mean, praying and thinking it matters at all? Knowing God's will (which isn't terribly hard if you focus on the basics) and running after it as if everything depends on it... I want that. More than anything."
"Sad side note: [my current small group] isn't really there. They’re where I've always been, and I like it, I like them, but I need more. And I'm sad because they've been enough for so long. I'm not quitting them at all. But I want to be an A+ student, which is hard when everyone is in so many other places. I don't want to sound ugly, and I don't think I know more than anyone or I'm better than anyone. I'm just... lonely. And I'm looking for ways to be un-lonely and seeking out other believers who are either where I am, want to get there, or have been here before... and are further along!"
After reading these notes, Ryan and Stephanie came over for dinner a few weeks later and they told me about the missional residency program they went through that really rocked their world. It was called Forge Dallas, and their mission statement is “Training men and women to live as missionaries where they’re already doing life.” I went through every page of the website almost drooling over the possibility of getting to know a group of people who were just as eager as I was to be wholeheartedly after God’s will. A few days later, I had signed up for the residency and started reading the first assignment. I was all in!
I did the five-month residency in January of 2016, and I can’t even tell you how much it changed me. I now have a tribe of people that completely understand where I’ve been, and they constantly ask what they can do to help me be a well-equipped missionary in my community.
I could talk for days about how different I am compared to two years ago. I no longer share my faith out of obligation or to make God like me more. I talk about my faith with others because it’s a crazy story of how a bored girl went from being stuck going through the motions to someone who has been redeemed from the pit and crowned with steadfast love and mercy (Psalm 103:4). Who doesn’t love a good story?
We weren’t meant to be alone. Loneliness will murder your faith, and I highly encourage you to check out Forge if any of this resonates with you. Or we can meet up for coffee because I would love to hear your story. We are called to have a big faith in a huge God who has never been boring. And it’s pretty amazing that we get to be a part of the most exciting story ever told.