Have you ever felt cut off from the Lord? Like your spiritual batteries were drained, or worse, that you've been shut out of that sweet place of rest and can't get back in? We all feel that way at times. When it happens a host of negative emotions crowd out the peace of Christ and temptations we thought were behind us are back knocking on the door. What's going on? |
Feeling disconnected is the common cold of the spiritual life. Fortunately, it's easy to remedy once you catch on to how the game is played---and stop wasting time wondering what's wrong with you. There's nothing wrong with you that a restored connection to Jesus can't fix! Oh sure, you'll still have troubles, but once the reconnect takes place, you're back in the sweet spot, filled with His peace, and ready for anything.
It's the deceiver's game to try to make us think that we're the problem. That gets us tangled up trying to fix ourselves. Give it up! The incredible, hard to believe truth, is that we are new creations, absolutely fine-tuned by our Redeemer to become everything He desires us to be. Not only that, but He has promised to supply us with all the love, wisdom, mercy and power we will ever need. The only catch is that none of this works right, if we aren't rightly connected to Him. Listen to Jesus' words:
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 ESV
Unless we abide in Him, our ability to live the Spirit filled life is non-existent. We are like brilliant pieces of technology, exquisitely designed for amazing purposes, but only if we stay "plugged into" our Source of divine life and power. He's got the "juice"---we don't! So, what constitutes a good connection? Trust and surrender. The essence of the walk is trusting Jesus with what He allows and following Him in what He asks.
The New Creation and Its Enemies
The new creation comes forth through us as we surrender to and trust in Jesus. Being under our own leadership---that's the domain of Self. Self was never meant to be our savior and guide. Jesus came so that we could be set free to live "no longer for ourselves," but for Him who died and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:15). This is so contrary to our natural bent that Jesus said we would have to deny ourselves "daily" in order to follow Him. It's no wonder we wind up feeling disconnected so often!
Behind our own struggles, there is a deceiver who knows these things better than we do. He knows how important it is for his team to disconnect us. Unexpected events or emotions shift our focus away from trusting and following Jesus. Soon Self is taking over again and all the peace is gone! What's more, the Big Five connectors have been made to seem like optional or undesirable things to do. They're not! Our very life in Christ depends upon them. And they are genuine delights, not dead dull duties. What a smear campaign has been waged against them!
Can you see by this that there is a lot of spiritual warfare around staying well-connected to Jesus? Your enemies (let's include the world and our flesh, along with the devils) are trying to disconnect you. Your primary concern is to make sure that a) you don't get disconnected, or b) you get swiftly and sweetly reconnected if you do. That's where the Big Five come in.
The Big Five: Our Lifelines
What are these marvels of grace? Bible, prayer, worship, fellowship and service. In a moment I will explain how each one connects us to the Lord and also serves as a safety net to draw us back to Him. For now I want to make some general observations about all five. First of all, we don't do them for Jesus. He's going to love us no matter what. We do them because they help us live in the "sweet spot" of surrender and empowerment. What better reason do you need?
Please look back over your mental image of Jesus and note that He loved doing all five when He walked the earth. They kept Him well-connected to the Father. Now, He takes joy in helping us love what He loves. He is already in us wanting to do the Big Five through us for the sake of the joy each contains. This alone draws us more deeply into His life in us, but He doesn't stop there. He uses them---as we do them---to help us get either re-connected or better connected to His peace and presence.
Are you excited? I am! Ever since the Lord revealed these truths to me (over 33 years ago), I have kept all five of the Big Five in play and He has used them to a) keep me from drifting away (despite the many blows of adversity) and b) to lead me into such a sweet place of surrender in Him that I would never, ever want to go back to living under the domain of Self. Sound like something your heart desires? Great! Then, let's get started.
Lifeline #1: The Bible
We call Jesus "the Word made flesh"---not the Word made obvious. Just as people could look at Jesus in the flesh (His physical body) and not see the bright, shining Light of the Word, so too, we can look at the Bible and see only a book. The Bible, however, insists that it is much more than a mere book. Through the written Word the living Word reveals Himself. Remember, that Jesus brought all of creation into being through His spoken words. Now, imagine what His written Word can do for you, to bring you fully to life. Let Him speak to you through it.
1) Connector: The Bible connects us to the Lord in two main ways. First, God uses scripture to reveal truth to us, truths about who we are and who He is, truths about the world we live in and how to live in it with Him. According to Jesus, knowing truth sets us free; the enemy, on the other hand, enslaves through twisting truth (deception). So there is a battle going on in which God reveals truth to liberate us, but that is only half the battle. The other way the Bible connects us is by instilling faith to believe the very truths that it conveys. This takes work, but the Lord is at work with us to help us get it.
2) Safety Net: As a safety net the Bible helps us as a road map for things to avoid (sins) and for things to do. Straying outside God's moral boundaries is certain to disconnect us from the One who drew the lines for us in the first place. The second use the Lord makes of this safety net is to draw us back to Himself whenever we do start to drift away. For this to work we have to stay in the Word even when we are going through situations that are playing havoc with our attitudes. In this way He can use scripture to help you stay "powered up" for doing the right thing (the connector) and also speak through it to wake you up and steer you clear of wrong turns (the safety net).
Lifeline #2: Prayer
When the Lord promised that all who call on His Name will be saved (Romans 10:13), He was not just talking about heaven, but getting heaven's help in the here and now. Prayer is calling on God for mercy, for help or for whatever we may need or desire. Take it in faith that He loves listening and responding---no concern is too small. Let your weaknesses and your needs drive you to Him. That will give you plenty to talk about! Best of all, this connector brings us through communication about us into communion with Him.
1) Connector: You don't have to pray: You get to pray! Not only is the Lord always willing to listen, He can actually do something about our predicaments. That's reason enough to start talking to Him. But don't stop there. Learn to connect with faith as you cast your concerns on Him. Persevere in prayer until you really sense He has it in His Hands---and that you are finally and fully letting it go. This reconnects you with His peace.
2) Safety Net: An active prayer life strengthens our relationship with the Lord, especially if we remember that conversation is a two-way street. Wait before Him in silence. Even if you don't hear words, you will receive impressions. By these means He communicates understanding, sympathy, and the clear sense that we are not alone. We begin with short-term needs for intercession (the connector), but the long-term goal is an intimacy which knows that we can rest our heart in His (the safety net).
Lifeline #3: Worship
In worship we are no longer communicating our needs and requests, but thanking Him for what He has done and praising Him for who He is. Such worship brings us speedily into close communion with Jesus---a fast track to enhanced connection with His peace and presence. Worship can take place in many ways: with others in church, in our quiet times, or simply by doing all that we do as a love gift to Him.
1) Connector: Sunday worship provides an opportunity for all of us to refocus our attention and affection on the Lord. In public services of worship (and private moments of intentionally drawing close to God), we can experience the returning wonder of who He is and of all that He means to us. Corporate worship creates a spiritual "atmosphere" which makes it easier for everyone present to become worship-full. As Jesus "inhabits" the worship of His people, we either re-connect or receive greatly enhanced connections.
2) The Safety Net: Anyone can participate in a worship service at church. Entering into worship is a different thing entirely. True worship can only happen once impediments have been cleared away. Sin needs repenting and confessing. So do hard feelings towards self or others. I have long seen worship services as a kind of diagnostic: Is my heart as right with God as I think it is? If so, the heavenly gates swing open (the connector); if not, I'll start seeking God to help me clear the way for Him to draw near (the safety net).
Lifeline #4: Fellowship
Our amazing God(s)---Father, Son and Holy Spirit---are always in perfect love and fellowship with One Another. Through the gospel They are working to draw us out of our self-focus into genuine fellowship with each other and with Them. Fellowship is much more than casual conversations after church. By intentionally seeking out friends in the Lord who desire to grow in Spirit and in His truth, we stay refreshed and strengthened.
1) Connector: Now that we have been born again by Word and Spirit, we are not only free to worship God in Spirit and in truth, we can find common ground with anyone if the spirit between us is love and we can find some truths to agree upon. This is only hard if you expect perfect love and perfect agreement from everyone you meet. Once you grasp this simple principle you can become well-connected to Jesus practically anytime with practically anyone, especially if they are also seeking fellowship with both you and Jesus.
2) Safety Net: Through intimate Christian fellowship we "see into" each other and therefore can foresee problems or have insight to things the other person may be facing. In this way fellowship becomes an avenue for wisdom, guidance, correction and confirmation coming to us from the Lord, keeping us on track in our walk with Him. The strength of this safety net is almost entirely dependent upon how well we build bridges of genuine fellowship (made of honesty, openness, and transparency) during our times of connection.
Lifeline #5: Service
Serving others leads us out of ourselves into living more like Jesus does---selflessly, even sacrificially. Most of us have work we do for our own survival, which, if it is honest work, also benefits other people. Service helps us learn to give ourselves, expecting nothing in return, simply because it is the right and loving thing to do.
1) The Connector: Christian service makes us far more aware than ordinary work of how we are doing it. Are we doing everything "as unto the Lord?" Are we serving others in a way that reflects Jesus' loving kindness? A servant's heart will open us to compassion for others and transforms us into becoming more like Jesus, if we do as Mother Teresa said: "We serve for Jesus, with Jesus, through Jesus and to Jesus." What a connection point that is!
2) Safety Net: The call of service---in any moment---works as a safety net. If I am not willing to lay my life down or set my agenda aside to be of service to the Lord, or if my attitude proves to be a stinker, then the call to service is showing me I need to have a "come to Jesus" meeting. Service, therefore, "works" to transform us. If we cooperate, the Lord uses it to draw us into splendid moments abounding with His love and life (the connector); if we encounter internal resistance to His call, the Holy Spirit is showing us our need to repent and return (the safety net).
The Danger of Not Doing the Big Five
Keep in mind that we are not given these connectors for God's benefit, but for our own. Don't live perpetually disconnected from Jesus by ignoring your five big lifelines to Him. They won't always be in the best of repair. Sometimes you may neglect one or more of them, whether by laziness or busyness. When that happens, always be quick to mend your nets before any sizable holes develop. You don't want to fall past the "do's" into the "don'ts"!
I have worked with men with addictions for years and have never yet seen someone fall back into the addiction who was faithfully working these five do's. They do fall back whenever they stop working them. The men, however, almost universally think that the problem was doing the don'ts. Naturally, we don't want to do the don'ts, but the do's keep us from the don'ts! So whatever you do, keep your safety nets in good repair and keep re-connecting with the Lord's power, peace and presence. Live plugged in to the Spirit filled life!
For over a decade Steve Evans and Healing Streams have been helping people recover inner peace and freedom. Find out how to gain mastery over negative emotions and live with childlike freedom of spirit by taking his completely free "eCourse for Healing" at healingstreamsusa.org. Get started now!
Related Articles -
Bible, prayer, worship, fellowship, service, christian faith, belief in God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, grace, spiritual life, peace,