Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Going Deeper looks like...what?

I started talking about going deeper with God in the last post. It's an interesting topic because as I think about it now, as compared to 25 years ago, there's a big difference. Going deeper 25 years ago meant changing my lifestyle, my habits, the way I spent my money, the way I spent my time, etc. etc.

Then going deeper had to do with responding to loss and crisises. Instead of reacting in anger or depression it meant responding with wisdom and grace-learning to take positive steps rather than negative, self-destructive ones. This was huge for me and still continutes today.

But what does going deeper look like now? I've been asking myself that because at first I had no idea. The idea is still forming but here's what I came up with so far. Going deeper now looks like:

1. Being more self-aware. I don't think you can ever stop growing in this area. Everyone is much less aware than they think they are. We are much more self-conscious than we can imagine. I think what is especially deceiving is that the older you get (and I'm getting old at 51!) the more you tend to dial down all the "voices" that you don't want to hear and "dial up" the ones that affirm you. We all do this but I think after years of life you tend to just accept who you are and stop listening to people who would like you to change. So I think "going deeper" means to ask God to turn up the volume on the knobs that I've suppressed for too long...to hear afresh what people want me to hear and really listen and respond vs. saying, "I've been this way for 51 years, I'm not changing now!"

2. Asking God for more. I have a tendency to just take what comes my way and call it "good". Maybe it's the Midwestern in me but I don't feel right asking God for much. I figure he's going to give me what I need and allow the pain that he will allow and my job is to humbly take what is given. But the Bible doesn't say that. The Bible says that God wants us to ask...ask for big things...unbelieveable things, for two reasons; one, to bless others and two, so he gets the credit. I believe God wants me to ask for bigger impact both personally and as a church. And when those things happen, I believe God that I will have met God in a deeper way.

3. Serving more. Our first step is always self-preservation. I think you can never stop learning to be generous. And so this is the most obvious way that I can grow deeper; giving more, serving more, helping more. I'm not talking about burning myself out but looking for the opportunities to be used by God to bless others.

I'd be interested in hearing what "going deeper" looks like to you if you care to post. If the post feature doesn't work, email me and I'll post it for you.

What does it mean to go "deeper" spiritually?

I went to a T.D. Jakes revival in Washington, D.C. last week. I had never seen him before. Interesting guy. It was a supercharged, quasi-pentecostal setting...not my preferred ministry environment but I still was challenged...not always because of the message. (Sometimes in spite of it!).

One thing that struck me was my need to go to another level spiritually. To be honest, and I don't mean this in an arrogant way, I'm very comfortable where I'm at spiritually. I've come a long way over the years. I feel like God has chipped a lot of pride and selfishness away from me. He's moved me from a self-centered life to one that is focused on helping/serving others. And I feel like I understand the ways of God pretty well.

I'm not saying that I'm perfect by any means...I've just come a long way and it feels good to be where I'm at. In many ways I've surpassed where I thought I'd be when I first decided to follow Jesus at 19. I would never say that I've "arrived" spiritually, but I am comfortable. But as I reflected on that...it seemed wrong.

I got to thinking about God and how infinite he is. No matter how close to God you are, no matter how refined you've become, there is always another level to go. The "well" of Jesus is infinintely deep. So really, being comfortable is not a good place to be...at least, if that means that you aren't seeking to move on. It's like saying that you've invested well financially all your life and now you are just going to live off the interest. Or, you've invested in people all your life and now you are going to stop investing in people and just live on the relationships that you've formed. Somehow it seems self-serving. I think as long as we have breath we are to be investing ourselves in this life in every way; financially, relationally, spiritually, and in serving others.

I have more thoughts to share but I'll save them for the next post. I just wanted to get you thinking about going deeper this year. Maybe you have grown comfortable too. Or is "comfortable" just another word for "stagnant"?