Many struggle to muster the desire to spend time with God. This struggle is a normal aspect of our sanctification. Sanctification is a big word that communicates the change process which is continuously working in us as we live in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Sanctification is nothing short of beautiful. The work that Christ brings in our lives, whether through difficulty and defeat or ease and victory, is awesome.
I am not going to offer a ‘how to’ strategy for experiencing Godly affections. I just want to share with you my personal experience. My journey began with a goal of routine and discipline (or attempts in that direction, anyway). Instead, I was inconsistent with my time reading the Bible and inconsistent with my time in prayer. I often felt frustrated about that inconsistency… often beating myself up over missing days and even weeks at times. Yet even amidst my inconsistency I found God working and putting pieces of the puzzle together in my heart and mind.
I began to notice the way other people were talking about and feeling about God. Whether mentors, sermon recordings, or books, I began to notice there was something stirring in these individuals that I desired. The only common denominator that I heard among these men was their deep love and devotion to the Bible. So, I knew that there must be more… that my initial discipline was a good start, but there had to be more to all of this than what I was experiencing during my hit and miss Bible readings.
The goal of disciplined reading was then boosted by a hunger to see and be amazed by the work and words of God. I then gave myself to learning how to read and study the Bible. My previous approach was just to read it and then wait for it to magically do its thing in my heart. It was an enormous change for me to understand that I could learn how to study the words of scripture in a way that really brought them to life.
As soon as I began really studying the scriptures, a few amazing things happened. First, I immediately noticed that the joys of discovery in the Bible are infinite. The more I studied, the more I wanted to study… it just kept opening up wider and wider. Second, as I learned to study God’s Word, my hunger for it began to grow exponentially. Third, for the first time in my journey I found that my affections for God and His Word were swelling. I no longer needed a speaker, teacher, or any other type of experience to stir my soul for Christ. I could not get enough of Him.
As the years have passed, the affections have multiplied with the desire. Further, instead of feeling closer to a complete understanding of His Word, today it feels bigger and more overwhelming than ever before. An ever increasing desire has been met by an infinitely loving God whose words are ever expanding in my heart, mind, and soul.
Today I do not feel any closer to a ‘finish line‘ or a complete understanding of all things divine. However, today my affections are stirred for God through His Word like never before. I continue to be spiritually inspired by others through listening to or reading those who have been on the journey longer and deeper than myself. My time reading and studying the scripture and in prayer brings a joy that I did not know was possible. He continually exceeds the breadth of my imagination and the depths of my understanding.
Challenge: (1) Stay the course. (2) Surround yourself with people and books that enflame your Godly affections. (3) Reflect on Him and His Word through writing/journaling.
Matt Powell serves as teaching pastor at Crossings Community Church, a body of believers whose mission is to engage, equip, and empower homes for gospel transformation in Katy, TX.