The Slow Restart
This article was originally published on gracefortheinfj.wordpress.com. Republished with permission from the author. There’s something that’s been on my mind. That God has been working in me for a few weeks now. I can feel the pull to write about what He’s been doing in me.
I’ll start by saying that for the past few weeks, I’ve felt so stunted in my faith and so disconnected from Him. It’s something all Christians will probably experience at some point in their journey. But sometimes I think I’m different, that somehow it happens to me more often than other people. Whether there truly is a unique and complicated element of this sort to my relationship with God, or whether that’s a lie Satan wants me to believe about myself. But I feel this disconnect with Jesus more often than I care to admit.
It feels like a lull. A pit that I get stuck in. And for weeks, even months on end I can’t make sense of my relationship with Him. I lose touch completely. Scripture is not only hard to understand, but hard to be motivated to read. Prayer feels like walking into a brick wall at best, impossible at worst. Fears and doubts creep in about God’s love for me. His tolerance of me and all my issues. I start questioning everything, including my salvation’s validity. And God’s plan for my life.
These are dark times for me. Can you relate? Have you ever felt so far from Him, so scared, so unsure of how to get back to assurance?
That’s where I’ve been lately. But I know in my heart that I still want to know Jesus. More than anything, at my core, I want to be close to Him. I want a relationship. Also want safety, growth and new life. I want solid ground to stand on and just exhale.
I think that tiny knowledge in my heart, the knowledge that I still want Him, is from God. No matter how tiny it seems sometimes. It’s a desire so small when covered by worry and fear, yet in itself so unbelievably strong. It’s a desire that centers my soul enough to refuse to give it all up. I thank God for that teeny tiny desire. Praise the Lord that He still shows me how much I want and need Him when I’m lost in darkness, cynicism, reluctance, insecurity, and apathy. In those moments, I don’t know much about Jesus other than I want Him. All of my theology seems shrouded in doubt except for that desire.
And somehow, by God’s grace, it’s enough to make me clench my fists, grit my teeth, and try to pray. Or read the Word. Listen to a sermon. Or anything else. It’s always something small. And something super difficult for me to even fathom doing. But I just try. I just go for it. Just read a psalm or a chapter of the gospels, even if I feel nothing, understand nothing. I just do it because I want to not be where I am. Have a desire to be close to Jesus. And I’ve heard in so many sermons that if you want that, you have to spend time with Him. Sometimes it’s excruciating, especially at the very beginning, and especially in prayer. But it is so necessary.
And then, painstakingly slowly, it seems, it gets easier. I listen to more sermons. Pray a little more. I feel a little more grace for others and myself, a little more hope for the world. The desire to read the Bible starts to come back. A sense of “Amen,” when I listen to or watch or read something true.
God’s been allowing me to endure this process lately, and He’s put in my mind this idea of “the slow restart.” I’ve been hearing those three words in my soul for a while now.
I want you to know that it’s okay to restart. It’s okay to be down, and to crawl your way back up. He’s not surprised and He’s not going anywhere. God's crawling with you.
What a Savior we have who lets us restart! Think about Peter in John 21. After he denied Jesus three times, he felt ashamed, afraid, and far from God. He even went so far as to return to his former occupation as a fisherman. I think that physical distance from his lifestyle as a follower of Christ was reflective of his internal state of disconnect. Then Jesus rose, and came to the beach where Peter was out fishing in a boat on the water. Once Peter realized it was Jesus, that desire was there.
Peter still wanted Jesus, even though he wasn’t fixed. And he probably still felt horrible for his sin, far from God. But he wanted Him all the same, and dove into the water and swam to shore. Jesus could have reinstated Him then and there. But instead, they just eat breakfast together first. Then they go for a walk on the beach. It was a slow restart for Peter. I’m sure he felt uncomfortable. But Jesus was patient. Jesus loved him. He brought him back into the fold. Peter was okay. You’re going to be okay. I’m going to be okay.
God’s been teaching me to lean into the slow restart. To let it be slow. Start small, and keep at it. Keep plugging away, even when things don’t make sense.. That’s what I’m doing now. It’s not easy. I’m still in the thick of it. I don’t feel 100% yet. I’m not sure that I will, or that I’m meant to this side of heaven. But I do know that I want Jesus. And that Jesus’s words are always true, always solid and firm, always there for me to come back to.
Where are you today? Do you want to be close to God, but feel disconnected? What would it look like to have a slow restart in your faith?
Have you gone through a time like this? Do you have encouragement to offer for others in this season? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
P.S. I know most posts about “restarting” come during the start of a new year or a warm, sunny season. I don’t believe that we can only restart or experience renewal in January or the springtime. My belief is that God is always with us and always working. He is always calling us to come to Him. So as the air turns cold, the sky gray, and the trees brown this fall, I am turning to Jesus. And praying for a renewal in my soul.