“What is your advice for someone who knows they need to experience a spiritual breakthrough, but hasn't been able to? For example, someone who is stuck in a sinful habit or in bondage to fear or anxiety. Maybe they currently go to church, pray, etc but are still unable to experience the victory they desire.”
We received this question from one of our readers and to be honest I stopped reading after the first line. I was stuck reading it over and over again, for some reason I just couldn’t move past the first sentence. I sat down to ponder this out, what would I say, would I use an analogy? Would I get theoretical about it? My brain went into a bit of overload. I started to write my answer and after three lines immediately backspaced… I didn’t like how it sounded. Again and again this happened, I would write a little and delete a lot, until there was the blank page that I started with. I began playing with cool fonts, different colours, bold, italic, underline, line through text, little bit of column ‘A’ followed by some of column ‘B’.
It’s not that I don’t know the answer to the question but I don’t think that the answer I have is the one this person wants to hear (but let’s be honest, has that ever stopped me before?). I wonder, at the end of the day, if it is in fact a spiritual breakthrough that this person needs… or do they just need some self-discipline. This was confirmed by my own struggle that I have been going through the past week or so since I began writing this response. I’ve been feeling a little lost, wishing and hoping for that kick in the butt we tend to see as a ‘breakthrough’… and then last night, it happened.
There were tears, it wasn’t pretty, there was frustration, there was even a little bit of anger but let me tell you this… It was no “spiritual” breakthrough. It was a dose of reality. I have been feeling very spiritually disconnected, stagnant really. I know that my relationship with Christ wasn’t disintegrating but I sure knew that it wasn’t growing either. After a conversation with one of my best friends about the amazing Church service they had that morning, something inside me broke down. My heart hurt, my head hurt and needless to say jealously made its way into my emotional head space. I wanted to feel that again, I wanted to feel filled and joyful and exuberant and excited and fuelled and, just, LOVE my church and my God and my Faith and I wanted to feel like I could no longer hold it IN!!!! Like I had once felt a year or so ago. My bestie left for the night and I broke down in front of my husband. I was sick and TIRED of feeling empty and not challenged in my faith. I began to search for the answer (out loud of course and through streaming tears) in “blaming” my new church, how I yearned for the ways of my old church and the style I was used. And then the “breakthrough” came. Like I said it was not spiritual, it was DEFINITELY God, but I wouldn’t say it was spiritual. It was Doug, my husband.
“Jen. You know that you can’t put this on church, you need to take some responsibility for this”
I just stared at him, tears continuing to stream down my cheeks (because at this point, as any girl knows, they just don’t stop). He was right, right as rain.
I am very aware of how I won’t ever be able to break emotional, spiritual or even physical chains on my own but that’s why God gives us the very tools that we need to succeed.
I think we tend to confuse a Spiritual Breakthrough with a personal realization and they don’t tend to happen at the exact same time, in fact, it is usually one that leads to the other. My personal emptiness had nothing to do with our church (which I love and am so happy we found), it has nothing to do with the different worship styles, although both of those things could definitely play a factor in spiritual growth. But ultimately, this was a me thing. If I want to feel close to God I need to take some steps forward and not expect Him to do all of the work. It could be as “simple” as checking my heart as I go to church; am I there to worship God in all of His Glory or be filled myself? Or maybe it’s a matter of challenging myself to dig deeper into God’s word and to do so more frequently.
So back to our readers’ question, in light of what I just experienced myself.
I don’t believe that, as Christians, we get a spiritual intervention every time we get stuck on a sinful habit or when we are trapped by fear or anxiety. I want you to consider the following: We consider a spiritual breakthrough as a time when we want God to speak to our hearts directly, so direct that it immediately instigates a change in our behaviour, our self-discipline, our determination, our thought process, etc. We expect to experience this revelation through a Worship experience whether at church on Sunday or at a revival of sorts (like a conference), while listening to a pastor or singing during a music set. But when that doesn’t happen our world begins to crumble and we begin to feel deserted.
What we rarely turn to first is the very physical, very present, word of God. The Bible. The very word of God that exists on our bedside table, coffee table, dusty bookshelf and even in our phones yet we seek it out as a last (sometimes not even that) resort. If you want your breakthrough, SEEK to BREAK THROUGH whatever you feel is holding you back. I tend to view these things as shackles or chains because visualizing things helps me to focus on dismantling them. I am very aware of how I won’t ever be able to break emotional, spiritual or even physical chains on my own but that’s why God gives us the very tools that we need to succeed.
As a child of God, He will ALWAYS be faithful to you even when your faith wavers. We need to constantly remind ourselves that just because we don’t feel God during a season of our lives does not mean He is not there.
1. His Word
God did not send us out into this world empty handed, we have the privilege of learning from those who came before us (trial and error style), not to mention a full book of direct quotes on life! I bet if you sat down with a Bible that you would be able to get the very answers you seek, the difficulty most people have is that usually the answer is not on the first page they look at. These days we have an assistant when it comes to the Bible… it’s called Google. There are many credible, amazing websites that can help guide you to Bible verses if you don’t know where to start. Here are just a couple of examples to give you a glimpse of what kind of wisdom the Bible holds.
Isaiah 54:17 (NIV)
Once you find a verse (or five) that speak to you. Write it on a piece of paper, make it as fancy as you want, and post it on your bathroom mirror, on your bedroom wall, put reminders in your fridge for when you get milk for your cereal in the morning, on the back of your door as you head out the house, on your pillow before you go to sleep. PUT THEM EVERYWHERE to remind yourself of the faithfulness of our God and how through HIM you can conquer all things.
2. His Faithfulness
Do you remember the poem Footprints? Many of you know it and can almost recite it since it’s been plastered on every wall, painting, background, mug, bookmark, bumberstickers, etc. I want to draw your attention to the last stanza,
“Why, When I have needed you most
Hear me when I say this, write it on your heart. As a child of God, He will ALWAYS be faithful to you even when your faith wavers. We need to constantly remind ourselves that just because we don’t feel God during a season of our lives does not mean He is not there.
"If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself" (2 Timothy 2:13 ESV)
This may mean that during this time WE need to take some responsibility for our growth. Pedal to the medal, nose to the grind, elbow grease and all the rest. However, just because I’ve said this out loud does not make the season any easier to get through, trust me, I’ve been through a dry season myself and by far it was one of the most difficult times of my life. Yet, it was also one of the most rewarding times.
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV)
Stand firm on the promises of God. Let that be your mantra, even if you have to start talking to yourself in your car on the way to work or on the way home from work… or both (like me). Seek Him daily, whether by prayer or diving into His word.
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)
God Promises to walk with us and He promises to fight beside us… but this means we must be ready, nay, WILLING to fight.
3. His People
Exposing our faults to others can be one of the scariest things on this planet. The idea that they would have access to sins that we keep well hidden from the rest of society is terrifying, the ultimate feeling of vulnerability. However, God places people in our lives for a reason, people with life experience who have most likely been through something that you are going through, and if they haven`t I guarantee that they know someone who has. This is the one time you will ever hear me encourage you to use people. Seek out people that you trust in your life or in your church and confide in them. Let them help bear your burden but ultimately, let them be there for you as you struggle through the ups and downs of breaking chains. They are also an amazing source of accountability. If you are truly ready to move on to the next chapter of your life, breaking those chains and throwing them away never to pick them up again… you will need someone to slap your hands every time you reach for them again.
So how do we attain that “Spiritual” breakthrough? In the end, it comes down to you.
God Promises to walk with us and He promises to fight beside us… but this means we must be ready, nay, WILLING to fight. If you are not willing to fight then you will not experience the victory over the sinful habits and temptations that you are facing because God is not going to do it for you, nor should He.
"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
The battle can be won, are you willing to fight?
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