I sat raptly at the end of the church pew, my head cocked sideways, face askew with skepticism. The words floated around me, but I struggled to let them sink in.
“If faith were a tire,” the minister asserted, “it would rarely be destroyed by a sudden blowout. Instead, it will be taken out by slow leak, occurring over time. Little doubts here, another heartache or worry there—another failure, another hurt stuffed away. It all compiles. And if the holes aren’t patched and repaired as they come, eventually the tire will fail.”
As a Christian very new in my faith, the idea that I could ever let my faith slowly fade and deplete over time...well, it seemed crazy to me. I mean, I loved God! Why would I ever let anything come between us?
Now, almost 35 years later, I see the profound wisdom in those words. I tend to drift from God versus run from him. I find myself going to my friends more than going to my knees in prayer. When I do pray, my prayers can become a place of worry versus faithful surrender. I tend to lean on my own understanding instead of my Creator's.
And the result? Honestly, when I’ve allowed myself to drift away from faith, I feel just like that old tire—worn, depleted, unable to bear any real weight. I become quick to get angry and slow to listen. I feel very justified in my self-pity, my fears and anxiety. My eyes are firmly squared on myself and my circumstances.
Even though I know God teaches me that the best antidote for sadness and depression is praise and recalling my blessings, it’s the very last thing I want to do in that moment. I can almost hear the hiss of my spiritual tire losing air, reverberating through my soul.
In those moments, I have wrapped a handful of spiritual practices around me as I fight to let the Lord take over, patch my spiritual hole and refill me with the fresh, peaceful air of the Holy Spirit. These practices have proved so helpful!
Sometimes I simply count my blessings. Oh, I vent to the Lord for sure. I get everything off my chest that is pressing in on me. But then, I make a point of speaking out loud all the many ways God has protected and delivered me. I thank my Creator for every good blessing I can possibly think of, and I take on a position of gratitude and praise before him.
Other times, I grab a hold of my spiritual truths. Guys, these are my lifelines! I read out loud good and positive scriptures about God’s power, or of God’s view of me, or God's God’s promises, really letting them marinate around my heart and mind.
Sometimes, I can barely read through these truths without bawling. Other times, honestly they can annoy me because my pity party is throwing a rager and doesn’t want to quit! But still I read them. And just as promised in Isaiah 55:10-11, they do make an impact.
I have declaration of truth cards I’ve created and collected. They are a compilation of several scriptures that counter the accusations and lies the Enemy likes to whisper—okay, sometimes shout—in my ear. Man, just hearing them can feel like balm on a burning, blistering wound. They soothe my very soul.
There are many other things I do, too numerous to list. But at the end of the day, the only way I’ve learned to experience a life-giving, transformative relationship with God that is replete with love, joy and peace is just like any other skill I’ve learned: practice, practice, practice.
Unlike other abilities, however, only the skill of stepping aside so the Lord can patch my spiritual holes (or in biblical terms: to put on my God-given spiritual armor) actually yields a heart that is “full of joy that is glorious beyond words” (1 Peter 1:8 CJB).
And the end result? It’s found in 1 Peter 1:9: “