Over the past month or so, I’ve slowly been becoming less disciplined and interested in reading the Bible, prayer, and reading in general. In exchange, I’ve been doing more iPhone game playing, wasting time on my computer watching interesting/funny videos, etc. And, as a result of turning my focus away from God, I feel more and more distant from him.
Currently, I am doubting a lot again, which makes sense in a way. I start wondering if it’s all just a mind game. Is this whole Christianity thing not reality? Am I just finding ways to convince myself that it’s real? After all, the mind is a powerful thing, and many people wind up being convinced of far crazier things. Anything that I put a lot of time into will start to feel familiar, and like “home” in a way, a comfortable place. How do I know that Christianity isn’t just that happening?
I also feel very disinterested currently. I don’t want to read the Bible. I don’t want to spend time praying. I’ve been going at it pretty strong for six months. Maybe I just need a break – a little breather? Other things are much more enjoyable. I found a really fun game on my phone that I’m really into. That sounds more fun than reading from the book of Joshua and wondering why God had the Israelites completely obliterate all the men, women, and children in a bunch of different cities. Sent them in and killed them all by the sword. What happened to “thou shalt not kill”? Isn’t that completely the opposite of the teaching of the entire New Testament? Wresting through that kind of stuff is hard, and it doesn’t make sense, and there isn’t a really good answer anyway. It’s no wonder why other things sound more easy and enjoyable.
But there’s a catch to all of this. The last month has also felt very unfulfilling and unfruitful. I feel lazy and like I’m not really accomplishing much of anything. I feel like something good has gone missing, and it feels slightly depressing. It’s particularly uncomfortable for me, as the last time I really felt this way, I ended up spending 4 years as an agnostic, which for me was a desert of discontentment.
I know there are plenty of books out there on “spiritual disciplines” suggesting that we need to be disciplined to read the Bible, pray, fast, and many more things. But I almost feel like I’ve been doing all of the work lately, and that God really will only show up when you are doing x, y, and z. When I stop, he seems to go away. I don’t like that, and it feeds the beast of doubt. I want God to show up and help convince me that he’s the real deal. Why doesn’t he seem to do that when you need him?
This is a tough place to be in. I don’t want the “fix” to be to just “read my Bible and pray”, as so many people used to tell me years ago when I was really doubting and questioning things. I don’t think this was ever meant to be some sort of formula where [reading Bible + prayer = God seems more real]. If I’m the sheep that is starting to go astray, where is my shepherd?