“I feel stuck. I’m in a funk….
…I know I should work out,
I know I should eat healthier.
I know I should spend more time with my kids, but they feel like such a burden sometimes.
My husband and I feel more like roommates than lovebirds.
My relationship with God feels stale and lackluster.”
Have you been there?
Have you had those thoughts?
Have you felt stuck and gotten in a rut???
Surely. We all have.
The truth is, if we aren’t intentional, we will drift like little jellyfish into the Sea of Stuckness.
And it stinks out there…
Why do we get Stuck?
Duty. Obligation. Burden.
Have-to. Need-to. Should.
I mean, seriously, don’t you just feel the heaviness as you read those words???
Like: I just wanna run away and hide. Go back to bed and pull the covers over my head.
Because, really, we tend to feel stuck when we lose perspective.
When we turn a delight into duty.
When we turn a passion into an obligation.
We get in a funk.
We lose motivation.Jesus doesn’t want our begrudging obedience and service. He wants our hearts.
And we get stuck.
“I have to read my Bible and pray.
I have to be intimate with my husband.
I have to spend time with my kids.
I have to make a meal for a neighbor.
I have to exercise and eat healthy.
I have to serve at church and at my kids’ school…”
The deadly words?
There’s something about duty and obligation that destroys passion. We tend to get so focused on the doing that we lose sight of the love.
We work to check the block, cross that thing off our to-do list, and give ourselves a pat on the back, all the while feeling more empty and stuck with each finished task.
Accomplishment just breeds further emptiness and disdain.
Because we were meant for so much more than a robotic existence…
Meant for More
I had a lightbulb moment on a foggy morning run in beautiful Bavaria.
I noticed that my obligatory every-other-day run had suddenly turned into an utter delight.
Something I looked forward to.
Because I found joy.
I shifted my focus away from “I just need to survive this run, check it off my to-do list and get on with my day.”
Instead, I delighted in the poppy-speckled hills, the tinkling of the river and the earthy fragrance of the towering pine trees.
I whispered “hello” to the herd of sheep, a sweet reminder of our Good Shepherd and His gentle care of His beloved.
I relished the quiet contemplation that occurs with the rhythmic two-step inhale-exhale-inhale-exhale…
And my love for running was rekindled.
My passion returned.
A burdensome obligation turned into a delight.
And in that moment I experienced a slice of the abundance that Christ has for us (John 10:10).
In that moment, I was able to worship the God who has so graciously given me the ability to run and to enjoy His glorious creation.
And in that moment, I reflected on the other areas of my life where my joy had dissipated. Where I had allowed passionless duty to become the norm.
What Stirs Your Affections?
On the run that day I remembered Matt Chandler’s oft-asked question:
“What stirs your affection for God? Whatever that is, do that every day.”
For me this includes Bible reading, prayer, running, listening to worship music or podcasts, enjoying the outdoors, journaling and the like.
As John Piper says,
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
Our fight for joy in Christ is of utmost importance in our walk with Him. And we fight for joy by doing whatever it takes to kindle that love and joy and keep our relationship with Him alive and full of passion. It’s out of the overflow of that joy that Christ is glorified in us.
On top of that, Jesus says,
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15, emphasis mine).
I believe God was absolutely purposeful in making the first and greatest commandment to:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”(Matt. 22:37, emphasis mine).
Love comes first. Love is the fuel for our obedience.
The greek word for “love” here refers also to finding one’s joy in something or someone. This would imply that we obey God’s commands, not out of a sense of burdensome duty, but out of a joy in Christ and love for Christ.
Jesus doesn’t want our begrudging obedience and service. He wants our hearts, and He wants us to be fully satisfied in Him.
And in that way, the fight for joy is absolutely essential to an abundant, passionate relationship with Jesus.
Joy in all of life
And as I was running, I thought of how this concept can apply not only to our relationship with God, but to all areas of our lives, kindling the joy and love and delight in activities and relationships that have become stale and lackluster.
Again, I can reword the question that Matt Chandler poses as it relates to other areas of my life:
What stirs my affection for my husband? Do that every day.
What stirs my affection for my children? Do that every day.
What stirs my affection for the body of Christ? Do that every day.
What stirs my affection for the calling God has on my life? Do that every day.
What stirs my affection for living a healthy lifestyle? Do that every day.
What stirs my affection for ministry? Do that every day.
For me, it includes reflecting on what I love about the people in my life and why I do the things I do.
What does this mean practically for me?
-Cuddling with my kids, looking intentionally into their sweet little faces and asking them heart-probing questions.
-Listening to sermons and ministry-related podcasts and audiobooks.
-Making the time to really be intentional with the relationships in my life, willing to serve, listen to their hearts and be available.
-Running with and enjoying coffee with my husband in the mornings and going on regular dates.
-Intentionally thinking about the wonderful things I love about my husband and kids and praying over them.
-Finding ways to serve my family and friends and do special, thoughtful things for them.
-Praying with my husband before bed.
-Running the most beautiful trails near my home here in Bavaria.
This means living intentionally, swimming against the tide and resisting the tendency to drift aimlessly into the lukewarm waters of complacency, duty and obligation.
I’d love to hear from you!
In what areas of your life do you feel stuck? How can we encourage you?
Where have you lost your delight and joy in Christ, your family, your ministry, your work or other areas of your life? Where have you turned these things into joyless, dutiful obligations?
What can you do every day that stirs your affection for Christ, your family, your ministry, your work or other important areas of your life?
Now go spend some time this week thinking about, praying about those things, and WRITE DOWN the answers to these questions. And go do them! And share with us how you’ve brought back the JOY in your life! I can’t wait to hear from you!!!