If we’re not careful, we can miss the whole point of discipleship. We can go through the motions but experience none of the joy.
Here are three steps to keep joy in mind as you pursue God.
Remember the Goal
Sam Storms, a pastor in Oklahoma, explains:
The single most important principle I ever discovered is this: the goal or purpose of the Christian is precisely the pursuit of happiness — in God. The reason for this is that there is no greater way to glorify God than to find in Him the happiness that my soul so desperately craves.
Storms writes, “God is most glorified in us when we are most happy and delighted and satisfied in Him.”
George Müller, a famous missionary from the past, said, “My first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day, was to have my soul happy in the Lord.”
Every day, as you read your Bible and pray, remind yourself that you aren’t pursuing tasks. You are pursuing satisfaction in God.
Pray for Joy
Consider praying this verse from the psalms regularly:
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Ask God to satisfy you with his love. Ask for him to give you joy in him, even when circumstances are difficult.
Keep It Simple
I listened to a podcast recently — I can’t remember which one — and heard this great advice at the end. It’s great advice to apply to our pursuit of God:
- Keep it simple.
- Keep it relational.
- Keep it fun.
Simplify your spiritual practices. Keep them relational. And keep them fun.
It happens to all of us. No matter who we are, we all feel stuck sometimes.
Here are some steps you can take to figure out why you’re stuck, and to get unstuck.
Think of Seasons
Sometimes we expect that growth will be linear. The reality: our growth follows seasons. We go through growth spurts, followed by periods of no noticeable growth.
“The best model for spiritual maturity is seasons,” writes Mark Buchanan. “And seasons are as much about what is not happening as what is. It has as much to do with inactivity as with activity, waiting as with working, barrenness as with abundance, dormancy as with vitality. For everything there is a season.”
Expect to go through periods of growth and periods of dormancy. It’s normal.
We’re complicated. Every part of our lives touches the other. If you feel stuck in one area of life, it helps to take stock of the rest of your life to make sure you’re covering the basics:
- Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
- Get moving. Exercise — even brisk walking — can help reduce stress and give you more energy.
- Deal with areas of your life that feel out of control.
- If you’re in a season of busyness — extra work or family demands — then expect that you may feel stuck spiritually.
Don’t just look at your spiritual life. Look at your whole life, and look for clues to what might be holding you back.
Take Small Steps
The first time I tried running, I went jogged for 10K. I came back in pain and didn’t run again for weeks. I would have been smarter to run for 1 minute and then take a break, repeat for a few cycles, and then build my mileage slowly over time.
Sometimes we attempt to do too much too quickly. Slow down. Instead of starting an ambitious reading plan, read for just a few minutes a day. Instead of trying to pray for 30 minutes, pray for 3. Choose a step that’s so small that you’re almost guaranteed to succeed. Take small steps, not big ones.
Ask for God’s Help
When we feel stuck spiritually, we seem to have a hard time admitting it to God, but it’s one of the best steps we could take. Strip away all pretense. Pray simply and tell God that you feel stuck. Ask for his help. God isn’t scared by our honesty; he invites it. He promises to help those who ask him.
We’ll all go through times when we feel stuck. Don’t be surprised or discouraged. You may just be in between seasons of growth. Take stock of your life, take small steps to get going, and ask for God’s help. You will grow again.