STUCK IN A RUT?
Over the years in the course of my work I have known people who shall we say were somewhat obsessional about various things in life and were particularly habitual about how they lived their lives.For example a lady who lived on her own was a creature of habit in her day to day life. She often felt that life was routine, lacked any great interest and had little to offer by way of occupying her time gainfully. She saw little future for herself and life consisted of cleaning, cooking meals for herself and going out shopping. She had few friends and certainly none who visited.
This lady was depressed and as we discussed her life, over a few sessions she admitted that it was not a life style that she found satisfying, but rather one that she saw as merely meeting her day to day needs. Her routine, which never really changed from week to week, was seen as the only motivation to bother getting up. Each day had its assigned tasks, activities and its set meals. Although she would like to have some company, someone to talk to occasionally and maybe go out to see friends, well, there was no time!
She found little satisfaction with her life, could see no future, wanted some excitement in her life and wanted herself to be more confident. She could not see, nor really realise, that her set routine did not allow for any changes.In short she was in a rut, a habitual routine so ingrained that any consequences were unseen.
We all have the potential to live much of our lives on autopilot! Now be honest, how often do you sit in the same place at home or in the meetings (and get upset if somebody else takes your place!), go to the same places, visit the same shops and have certain days when certain jobs and other things have to be done?
Do you tend to get up at the same time, drive the same route to work, visit the same people, phone family members at the same time on a set day, and possibly even eat the same sort of meals on set days from week to week.
Much of our daily routine is not a bad thing and placing unimportant things onto autopilot frees time, energy and attention that can then be focussed upon new things, more important tasks and upon creativity. On the other hand slavishly following routine can also greatly hinder and restrict life, just like the lady I mentioned. Although wanting change and being unhappy with her life, the daily routine stopped her making the changes that were needed in order to gain more satisfaction out of her life. She wanted friends, but never went out to meet them. She wanted people to talk too, but it was never convenient to phone or be phoned. She wanted to go out and enjoy the things in life that used to give her pleasure, but the housework always needed to be done and shopping had to be fetched. If nothing else ‘autopilot’ must be turned off, if close relationships are to be formed and maintained.
These principles apply just as much, if not even more so, in our relationship with the Lord our God, life in His service and relationships with brethren and sisters. It is equally as easy to get into a ‘spiritual rut’ in the Truth, just as it is in day to day life.
Now, I guess all of us would say that we love and appreciate God and the many blessings that we enjoy day by day. But how do you show that love? I think most of us would answer that we pray, read from the scriptures on a daily basis and attend meetings. However:
- Is your love as it was at the beginning when you were first baptised?
- Is your zeal the same?
- Is your enthusiasm the same?
The answer should be at least ‘yes’ or even better still honest self examination should indicate that they have increased.
It is quite possible for the day to day life of families to have an almost automatic mode to some aspects of conversation, such as for example a reply to a daily question about how the day has gone, given without any great thought to the answer. It is quite possible for even close relationships to become routine and lack spontaneity.
What about life in the Truth?
Meetings are regularly attended and yes we go to some other gatherings and studies – the ones we usually have on our calendar each year.But what about other activities and more importantly what activities do you personally instigate?
Ask yourself how the week to week routine of your life in the Truth stands up to change, to the unexpected and to periods away from home, for example taking a holiday. Do you still live putting God first and foremost?
Are you 100% satisfied with how you live life in the service of God, could your life in His service be improved? Does the routine of life hinder spiritual growth and making positive changes?
Do you make an effort to speak to as many brethren and sisters as possible at meetings and other gatherings, particularly those whom you may not know so well?
So, how to get out of a spiritual rut?
First, take notice of what you think, feel and do in response to God’s love and mercy. What do you think, feel and do in response to reading His Word? Not in the routine things, but what you do spontaneously?
That spontaneous prayer of thanksgiving, joy or praise.
That deep desire to read the scriptures and learn more about some aspect of the Truth.
That welling up of appreciation and joy at some view of nature, answered prayer, thought of the Kingdom and the myriad other thoughts that can bring hope and joy.
What would Jesus say to us if He were with you now discussing your life? The church in Ephesus was admonished:
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place––unless you repent.”
There is every reason to have hope and to love God and the Lord Jesus who have done so much for each and every one of those called to know the Word of Truth. Therefore Paul exhorts:
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25
If we truly love Him who first loved us, then the response will not be a mere routine or habit, but rather our lives will be full of spontaneous expressions of appreciation and love, a willingness to forsake everything in order to be part of the divine family:
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15
God never forsakes those who love Him: “He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6) Though this world crumble and fall (as it will and soon), though we face troubles and trials, the Lord our God will never leave us, if we do not forsake Him.
Just mediate for a few minutes on these wonderful words and you will soon avoid getting into a ‘spiritual rut’:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning!” (Lamentations 3:22-24)