There are those rare occasions when I’m driving all alone in my mini-van – no one’s demanding snacks, asking if we’re “there yet,” or kicking the back of my seat. It’s just me and radio turned up louder than usual. Matthew West comes on the speakers with, “The Motions.”
I belt it out with him:
“I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything
Instead of going through the motions?”
I sing with emotion and passion. I mean every word.
Then I reach my garage, turn off the radio and get back to the daily grind.
It’s mundane and unglamorous. But if I didn’t go through the motions at home, my family may be left with oranges and a piece of lettuce for dinner. Considering we’re not a family of rabbits, that would be a somewhat inadequate meal. So, I do what I have to, and make us dinner. Again.
But, you know what gets left out of the routine sometimes? If I’m being really honest with you, it’s time with God – either of the passionate or the humdrum variety.
Sometimes, I don’t feel the emotions of worship. Sometimes, I don’t have the least ember of passion egging me on to pray. Sometimes, I’m too tired to grab my Bible.
So I don’t. Unlike my family’s dinner, the consequences seem less urgent.
Matthew West’s song goes:
“I don’t want to have spent my whole life going through the motions.”
As much as the lyrics resonate with me, sometimes it actually works to go through the motions with prayer, Bible study and worship.
If I don’t build it into my routine, if I waited till the Hallelujah feelings kicked in, well, it may take as long as waiting for the next season of Downton Abbey to start.
So, I schedule some one-on-one time with God. And I let Him know that I’m “not feeling it” today. And that’s okay. Because He can handle the truth. I ask for the flame of faith to burn brighter. And some days it does. And other days? Not so much. But I do have it on good authority that God’s Word doesn't return void. When I sow the Word into my life, irrespective of my feelings, there is bound to be fruit.
In our daily lives, there are a bunch of things we aren't exactly passionate about doing.
Take my kids, for instance. Right now, they’re being coerced into practicing the piano every evening. Drop by my house and you’ll have a front-row seat to uninspired renditions of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
But in time, Beethoven may be playing off their little fingertips (a mom can hope!).
Passion is often preceded by practice.
A blog post by Jon Bloom on the Desiring God site reads:
“God designed your emotions to be gauges, not guides. They’re meant to report to you, not dictate you. The pattern of your emotions … will give you a reading on where your hope is ….”
God doesn’t want me to fake my emotions. I doubt He’ll buy the act – remember that bit about Him perceiving our thoughts from afar? Yeah, He’s not into play acting during prayer.
But I also need to evaluate my feelings. If I ignore my emotions, I ignore the opportunity to check my heart and see where my treasures lie.
But if I allow my emotions to direct my prayer life, I may end up not going to God at all.
So, I sometimes go through the motions. It beats being stagnant. It beats shutting out my Creator.
And I pray that passion will follow.
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