Every summer we go to Seaside Oregon for vacation. It’s become a tradition for Laura, the boys, and I. While there, I set aside some time to have a special “date” with each of the boys. They both have come to look forward to that time. Last year, Linc and I walked on the beach for hours while playing his favorite super hero guessing game. We eventually ended up at a quiet pub and shared a plate of fries. Sawyer just wanted to be held a bunch. I read him a bunch of books and we didn’t really go anywhere.
I always include in our time, some moment where I let Linc and Sawyer know how proud I am of them. I point out in them where I’ve seen them grow and share what I like most about them.
This year was different.
Linc and I started walking on the beach but he wasn’t interested in the super hero guessing game. Instead, he wanted to play a word game he had made up. So we took turns coming up with words that spell the same frontwards and backwards. (Our favorite is “racecar”) We also practiced running backwards while being chased by the incoming waves. Finally, we ended up at a different pub this time and he got to try his first onion ring.
Sawyer wasn’t interested in being held as much this year. Instead, we ended up building a sandcastle with a beer bottle we found on the beach. Then he found a little bone and made me keep it. It was a lil gross so I tried to get rid of it multiple times but he insisted. Eventually, we ended up at Pig n Pancake and we laughed a lot while he enjoyed a huge plate of pancakes with way too much syrup.
At the end of my time with both of them, we ended up on a park bench overlooking the ocean and setting sun. I took time, as usual, sharing what I like most of about them and how I’ve seen them grow.
They both still bring up our time together as one of their favorite moments of vacation. I think it may have even beaten out the bumper cars. I know it did for me.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” -2 Peter 3:18
My point is simple this week.
Just as the way I connect with my boys has changed from year to year, could the way you connect with your Heavenly Father have changed as well? Could the way you connected with God last year be different this year? What if the reason your feeling dry in your faith is because you’ve actually grown and changed? Perhaps you journaled or tried a Bible reading plan last year. Maybe this year, meditation or fasting or a good long hike is what will work? You’re growing and changing so it makes sense how you connect with God will grow and change as well. As a loving Father, I’m not irritated by Linc no longer wanting to play the super hero guessing game. That was never the point. The point was, and always will be, to connect with him. To love him. To know him. However he’d like to do that is fine by me.
Furthermore, please stop comparing how you connect with God by how other’s do. You’ll only lose at that game, trust me. The guy up front mentions how he read the whole book of Genesis last weekend and you can’t get through more than a few verses without checking your phone. This cna leave us feeling defeated. The truth is, he may not be more spiritual than you, he may just be a better reader. It could have been a Harry Potter book instead of Genesis. See what I mean? When we compare our insides with another’s outsides, we lose and the Pharisees win.
I’ve never once been annoyed with Sawyer because he didn’t want to play a word game with me. I’ve never rolled by eyes because Linc wasn’t interested in building a sandcastle out of a beer bottle. My boys are different and therefore, how they interact with me is different. I celebrate these differences and uniquenesses.
“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” -Phil. 2:1 (emphasis mine)
How you connect with God will be different from how I connect with God. Take anyone’s well meaning suggestions on spiritual growth as descriptions, not prescriptions. Keep the main thing, the main thing. You are attempting to relate to a very loving God who knows you and made you uniquely. He’ll meet you on your turf and on your terms. He just flat out misses you and cannot wait for the next time you ask to spend time with Him. As John Ortberg puts it, “You were not mass produced, but custom made.”
Lastly, we tend to think of spiritual growth as something that should be difficult. Like, the harder it is, the more spiritual we are. This asceticism is the things of hermits sitting in the desert somewhere, and has nothing to do with a “burden that is not heavy”. (1) Furthermore, I think it would hurt my feelings if Sawyer came home and told Laura how difficult and frustrating his time was with me on the beach. I want our relationship to feel effortless to him. I want him to feel like he can just be himself around me. Do you get the point? Because we often don’t give ourselves credit for things that come easily. With God you should.
So how do you connect with God? Perhaps a better question is, what do you like to do? What brings you life? Where do you become your true self?(2) Go and do that and include God in the experience. Go for a jog, or curl up in a blanket with a good book, or buy yourself a plate of onion rings. When you allow yourself to be yourself, you’ll discover God was waiting there the whole time.
Oh, and listen for when he speaks. Because He does. His favorite moment will be after the facade and walls and distractions fade. He longs for the moment you both breathe a sigh and are finally able to just be. Then he’ll whisper. You may just sit on a bench overlooking the sunset and he may share what he likes most about you and how he’s seen you grow. It may be better than anything else we settle for. Even bumper cars.
This year is different from last year.
You are a unique child of a loving Father.
Stop making it so hard.
- Matthew 11:30
- For far more on this, I suggest Sacred Pathways by Gary L. Thomas. As I’ve taught on this throughout the years, I’ve seen so much freedom and hope spark in people trying to connect with God. We are so hard on ourselves.