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Devotionals : Builders, not Jumpers
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Builders, not Jumpers

By Scott, Delve Christian Ministries
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In a recent conversation, the topic of Christian retreats came up. The issue was that it often seems that after these retreats, one is left on a spiritual high for a few days or weeks, but then later on things just seem to go back to normal. And so, I asked God what the reason for this might be. The answer that came to me is this: far too often, Christians use retreats as an opportunity to jump up high, rather than as a chance to build up high. Allow me to explain.

During our everyday walk with God, we rest on the foundation that we have. Our faith in Christ is like a building in a sense. As our relationship with God grows, that building becomes taller and stronger. Our faith develops, and we become more mature Christians. Keep that metaphor in mind.

When Christians (especially young believers) go on retreats, very often we do not approach it as a chance to build on the foundation that we already have. Instead, we treat it as some sort of instant, effortless way to get closer to God. We go to these events seeking after a life-changing spiritual high. And, very often, we do get that sort of high. Our faith feels invincible, and we feel as if every single thing that has ever troubled us is gone forever. So, we leave these places with the sense that things from then on will always be good, and that our relationship with God will be smooth sailing from then on out. But, as we all know, that isn’t what happens.

After these events, we find ourselves slowly burning out. The high that we had disappears, and life seems ordinary again, or possibly even worse than before. What happens? Jesus talks about this sort of thing in the Parable of the Sower:

Some [seeds] fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. - Matthew 13:5-6

The explanation for the parable is given shortly after:

The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. - Matthew 13:20-21

So what can we say from this? The people who come to retreats to get that spiritual high are missing the point. They are treating the events as a quick and easy path to God. But those events cannot do that for people. Not without Jesus at the focus. I’m not trying to bash these sorts of retreats. They are incredibly powerful and life changing, and I myself have been incredibly blessed by such experiences. But if all we do is use them as the high points of our Christian walk, going from event to event searching for that new high, all we are doing is jumping up and down.

Jumping will get us closer to God, but we have nothing under us to keep us up. And that is not how God designed us to live our lives. If we do that, our rest is found in the low places when we come back down to the ground. Then, we push really hard, get high again, and then fall once more. It is a constant struggle, and we can get pretty depressed and dejected after a while of living like this.

Instead then, how should we live? We ought to be constantly building our faith. We need to be seeking after God all our days, not just a few weekends out of the year. We need to understand that God is our Father, and he is always open and available for us - he isn’t the type of dad who only speaks to his kids on family camping trips. We need to have faith that the high we get when we go on those retreats is actually a glimpse of where God wants our relationship with him to be. But, instead of constantly jumping up and down, we need to build on the foundation that we have. Then, when we’ve spent time building and need a rest, we get to rest at the high point, not at the bottom where we were before. We then can use the retreats as opportunities to allow God to really build us up, and we know that God will not let us fall back down if our foundation is solid.

We need to be maturing all of the time, and we can have faith that God will do this work in us. He loves seeing his kids grow up into the men and women he created them to be. So don’t strive. Don’t keep jumping up and down, wasting your energy. Instead build your faith. Dive into the Word, pray to your Father, be filled with the Holy Spirit. Live a life that looks like Jesus. And let that tower that is your faith continue to rise higher and higher.

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This was a blessing this morning. I have never been to a Christian retreat, so I haven't experienced what you discuss in that specific sense, but I believe what you've written doesn't only apply to retreats. It applies more broadly to any great, spiritually uplifting experience that gives us that high. I love the metaphor, and I will use it with my children tonight to explain the type of walk we need to have with Christ. Thank you!

In Christ,

11/30/2012 6:59:20 AM - jjhogan, Member of Delve into Jesus since 12/6/2009

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