Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Ps 46:10).
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! (Ps 37:5-7).
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore (Ps 131).
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 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 15:4-5).
Meth is a terrible drug. The first hit sends one into absolute bliss, but it also begins to burn out the brain pathways that let you experience it. From then on, a meth user will never be able to attain that same high. But they crave it so badly, they use the drug more and more. And the more they use it, the more they burn out their brain’s ability to feel pleasure. Which means they become less and less capable of feeling good.
Very quickly, a meth user can no longer even feel normal without using the drug. They need meth to be able to not feel terrible. Their life is absolutely destroyed.
Karl Marx described religion as the “opiate of the people.” And sometimes, we are guilty of treating our relationship with Christ in that exact way. Particularly among Evangelicalism.
We Evangelicals have emphasized the experiential nature of Christianity. Our relationship with Christ is something we experience. And that is absolutely valid; I in no way mean to destroy that. The problem comes when the experience of it becomes our main focus.
As Sevo Lwali said to me one time, “We spend a lot of our time trying to go from high to high with God. But God is in the mundane, everyday things, too. And those are far more common.”
Often times, we are so very guilty of treating our relationship with God like this. We want to feel good, and God often makes us feel good. But that’s not what God is there for.
God is not a pill for you to swallow when you need a boost. God is the Creator of the Universe, not your personal high.
And the word of God is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12). That doesn’t sound pleasant. That sounds painful, in fact. A blade cuts. That hurts.
Over and over again, the Bible talks about being still when experiencing God. Waiting on God. Quieting yourself before God. That’s not an ecstatic experience. Yet ecstasy has become to focus of our spiritual endeavors.
The key is in the words of Jesus in John 15: “abide in me.” It means to stay, to remain, to make your dwelling in Christ.
Christ wants you to live your daily life in him. And you can’t be—and shouldn’t try to be—high all the time. That’s extraordinarily unhealthy.
Life has ebbs and flows, waxings and wanings. Yet Christ is in all of that. He’s not just in the spiritual highs. He’s also in the spiritual lows and everything in between.
Which is why the spiritual disciplines are so important. Yes, I’m on this topic again, because they are something we Evangelicals have largely forgotten. Because we’ve been, by and large, pursuing the highs and neglecting everything else.
Be still and know that He is God. How do you still yourself? Through things like the disciplines of disengagement, of abstinence: solitude, silence, fasting, keeping the Sabbath, secrecy (keeping your good deeds unknown), submission to God, celibacy, and the like.
These are things that you do to still yourself. Because God isn’t in the earthquake, the mighty wind, nor the raging fire. Sometimes God speaks in those mighty and loud ways. Those are your spiritual highs. But they’re rare.
God is always speaking to you, but it’s most often in the still, small voice. God usually speaks in a low whisper, and you need to be still or you won’t be able to hear it.
If you keep chasing spiritual highs, you will continue to miss the presence of Christ in your daily life.
So don’t chase down the high times with God. Rather, devote yourself to the daily life with God. Use the spiritual disciplines, and remain in Christ.
If you would like to learn more about spiritual disciplines, there is a lot available online. But as to books, Foster’s Celebration of Discipline: The path to spiritual growth is a great starting point. Another good book is Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.