“I feel like I’m missing something. When I hear other Christians talking about the life of God flowing through them, I just can’t relate. What does it mean to be full of joy and peace?”
“I’m tired of faking it. I go to church, I read my Bible, I even pray. But, honestly, my spiritual life is pretty mechanical. Why don’t I have the passion for God I see in other Christians?”
“As a new Christian, I’m supposed to be a ‘new creation’, so why can’t I control my temper as I should? Every once in a while, I get better at it, especially if I’ve just been to a good church service, but my joyful moods never last very long. Pretty soon I’m feeling as dry and powerless as ever. Am I doing something wrong?”
“I’m disappointed with God. Does ‘intimate fellowship’ with the Lord even exist? Whenever I talk to the Lord, our conversation is pretty one-sided. I don’t hear His voice like other people say they do. And frankly, I don’t see too many answers to my prayers.”
Four voices. Four complaints. And they are all talking about the same thing, a superficial relationship with God. A relationship that’s stagnant or stale, intermittent or phony. A relationship that doesn’t produce power or joy on a consistent basis.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Why, then, are so many Christians so totally lifeless? Why are joy and peace so elusive? Let me answer these questions using an analogy found in nature.
God is a River of Life
Some years ago, while teaching in New Mexico, I toured a beautiful valley just outside Roswell. It was dotted with trees, irrigating canals, alfalfa fields and orchards, things that are commonplace in a rural community. But in this part of the country, they seemed out of place because just beyond the valley lies a hot, dry desert.
“Why is this valley so green?” I asked my resident tour guide. He pointed to some mountains in the distance. “A river flows out of that mountain,” he explained. “You can’t see it because it’s deep underground, but it flows into a large lake not far from here.”
“And how does this lake provide water to the town?” I wondered aloud. “Let me show you,” my guide responded, and he drove me to a wide stream called Spring Creek, which flows out of the lake.
“The stream flows year-round,” he said, “that’s why real estate along here is very expensive.” I could see why. The property skirting Spring Creek was especially lush and green.
We left Spring Creek and drove across town to another stream. The contrast was poignant. This stream, called “Hondo”, flows out of the same mountain, but it was dry and barren that day.
During the rainy season, or in springtime when the snow on the mountain is melting, water rushes down Hondo with a mighty, flooding tide. The rest of the year, the stream is dry. Known for these extremes, land along this creek is relatively inexpensive.
There’s Life on Spring Creek
As I thought about the contrasts between Spring Creek and Hondo, it occurred to me that these two streams are illustrative of many Christians.
Spring Creek Christians experience a steady flow of living water in their spiritual lives. By spending time with Jesus consistently, they remain “connected” to God’s fountain of life, which flows continuously through a deep and hidden channel not visible to others. Because they are in God’s stream of life and power, they have joy and peace. There is a spiritual richness about them. They live on Spring Creek.
Hondo Creek Christians, on the other hand, dry up because they don’t dig deep into God’s Word, nor do they labor in prayer. Their Christianity is “cheaper” than that of believers living on Spring Creek, but for good reason. Hondo Christians don’t know how to tap the abundant life that flows from God’s presence. No springs of joy or power feed into their spirits.
Once in a while, there’s a big gush of spiritual activity in their lives. They go to a church retreat and get inspired to seek God anew. They get interested in the latest “movement” of God’s Spirit, or some crisis forces them to their knees temporarily. For weeks they may talk, even boast, about the latest thing God is doing in their lives. But, after a short flood of spiritual activity, the Hondo Christian dries up again.
Where are you living today?
Join us next week to learn the secret to going deeper with God