I go to church regularly and feel fed when I leave. I love my pastor and he gets me excited about Jehovah and Jesus. But then when I go to my everyday life (work, family, friends) I don’t feel that enthusiasm anymore. I feel Him in His house, but not in the world. I agonize about this. The Bible is hard reading sometimes and I cannot become regimented to read it regularly. Any suggestions?
– G. from Unknown City
A Common Problem (Part 1)
My first suggestion is to stop feeling guilty. There are probably very few believers who haven’t identified with your struggle at some point in their Christian walk. We are not on a “high” with God 24/7 and that does not mean we are doing anything wrong. It’s good that you feel “something” at church right now because sometimes people feel dull and lifeless even there.
Now I’m going to reverse myself a little and tell you something good about the “agonizing.” It demonstrates your true heart for the Lord and that means the fire is not burning as low as you think. What is happening is that your church life and your real life are not converging as one. I believe there are things you can do to correct that.
First of all, think of your Sunday service like the pep rally before a football game. Everyone gets all charged up and that enthusiasm carries the players through the grueling game itself. You may not feel as enthusiastic on Thursday as you did on Sunday but Sunday probably carried you to a greater degree than you realize.
Continuing the football analogy, think about “half-time.” It’s a time to recharge and refocus so the players can get through the rest of the game. Maybe a mid-week service would be a good half-time event for you. If your church offers one, try it. Plus, mid-week services are often Bible study oriented and that may help you in that category too. If there is no mid-week service, are there small groups to join?
The other thing I think you can do to carry church into your regular life is to figure out a way to serve. That is the core calling of every Christian. You need to do some ministry work during the week. What can you volunteer to do? Do it!
For some reason when you give yourself out you gain much more than you gave away. What you learned at church is not some remote endeavor but a launching pad for being Jesus with skin on to other people. Try it!
Making the Bible come alive (Part 2)
Many people find the Bible hard to read and struggle with it just like you do. Still, the Bible is probably the most exciting book ever written and it certainly has the most life and hope and truth so what’s the problem?
Are you a natural lover of books in general and learning and studying on any other subject? If not, that may be affecting you when you pick up God’s Word. It’s also possible that boring experiences from the past play a part in hindering you from forming a regular habit of Bible reading.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Start praying specifically each day for a fresh love of God’s Word and a strategy to study it.
- Switch Bibles. Get a modern translation, maybe in paperback form. That won’t feel like a big scholarly study volume that may subconsciously turn you off.
- Read smaller bites of God’s Word until you hunger for more. Try reading just one verse and then stop and say; “Holy Spirit, what would you like me to see here?” Take time to listen. Try writing down just one thought on that one verse. Then quit and come back the next day.
- Pick a verse to read early in the morning and then try to think of it several times during the day. Watch closely and see if something in the day makes it more relevant. Ask God to bring it alive to you in your real life.
- Do you have a favorite Bible story? Go back to it. Read what you like at first and then let your appetite grow slowly. I could read 1 and 2 Samuel forever and never get bored. Read your interest.
Keep trying as you work through the balance between church life and real life. You are on the right track simply by wanting to go farther in God. The fact that you aren’t satisfied with a boring Christian life is also proof that God isn’t satisfied for you. He’s stirring you up. He’s also probably getting ready to throw more coals on your fire. May you become a bonfire for him!