Many of us have had the moment, the year, or the retreat when we just felt it. Felt Him.
It might have been an amazing Bible study, devout friend, retreat, or strong upbringing. Most of us have experienced a time or season in our conversion when we were consumed, overwhelmed even, by how deep and infinite His love is for us.
These touches with His grace are a true gift. When we are held by Him in hard times, see Him work miracles, hear Him speak to us so clearly, or feel Him guide us, we are inspired to go forth, to take off our bushel, and to let our light shine.
During most of our life, though, this isn’t what faith looks like. Most of the time, our faith doesn’t feel on fire.
A Lukewarm Life
Lukewarm is defined as being “moderately warm.” Occasionally during bath times, my daughters will tell me that the water is “too hot, too cold, or not warm enough.”
Finding a safe temperature is easy. Finding the perfect temperature? Not so easy.
After these touches of grace, we are convinced that there is nothing Satan can do to blow out our flame. There is no way, after experiencing a Love so great, that we can grow tepid.
The farther we get away from these moments, the longer our ashes have to cool, we often become convinced that we were just caught up in a faith whirlwind. It couldn’t have been that real.
I like my coffee lukewarm. If I drink it fresh out of the pot, it’s too startling for my tongue to handle. I have to give it a good ten minutes until I can even attempt the second sip and, even then, I proceed with caution. Sometimes I give up and dump it if it grows too cold.
Is letting our faith simmer to a more comfortable, dulled-down version really all there is to this journey?
So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth (Revelation 3:16).
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Avoiding A Lukewarm Faith
Another definition of lukewarm is “lacking conviction or half-hearted.” How do we prevent our faith, our relationship with God, from becoming lukewarm? Our God is a God of infinite mercy and infinite love, but He gives us the choice. We can choose Him or fall away from Him. How do we keep the fire alive?
1. Make sure we’re building on good soil.
Tinder. Every good campfire starts with good tinder. Tinder catches fire easily, but burns fast. Sometimes we get swept up in an experience or what our friends are doing rather than in Love. God’s love is always true, good, and beautiful. If our faith experience lacks one of these, our fire will burn out.
2. Build the foundation.
Kindling. After the tinder burns (i.e. the retreat ends or we move away from college), we need something with continued substance to keep our flame burning. We should continue to do the things that make us come alive, the things that made us feel His love in the first place. By doing these things, we continue to be drawn to Him.
3. Feed the fire.
Fuel wood. These are the big logs, the fuel wood, that keeps our fire hot and burning. We should continue to pray, receive the Sacraments, and be a part of our local church community. These are the cornerstones of our Faith and the best way to choose Him when we’re not feeling Him.
For Everything There’s A Season
Every relationship goes through seasons. My relationship with my one-year-old is different than my relationship with my six-year-old. The baby’s gorgeous eyelashes and cuddles make me so happy, but her poopy diapers and tantrums don’t make me happy. The older child’s strong will and daily fight to watch more TV is not my favorite, but seeing her love her sisters and work hard at everything she does brings me joy.
I love them both the same, they’re just in different seasons of parenting.
Our relationship with God is similar. Every season He may speak to us differently, work differently, care for us differently. But His love remains the same. We just have to let Him love us.
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If your fire dwindled after a move, apathy, or a bad experience, try to reconnect.
If your fire burned out from shame, hypocrisy, or condescension, try to forgive others and yourself.
If your fire is feeling lukewarm, do the things you know will relight it again.
It’s never too late to begin again, sisters.
How have you recharged your faith when you felt it growing lukewarm?
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Ashley Stevens is a Catholic convert, collegiate athlete, wife, and mother of three beautiful girls. While serving as a FOCUS Missionary shortly after getting engaged, she was T-boned by a Mack truck and nearly lost her life. She lived to tell the tale and her ministry encourages those whose life isn’t going according to plan. Find out more about her here.