Recently, I have been looking back over the events of the last year and all that has happened. I have reflected on how I felt, how I’ve responded, and my feelings throughout. One thing that has really struck me is how different my experiences of the various lockdowns have been, particularly the first and third.
For me, although the first lockdown was a little scary and came with its fair share of challenges, disappointments, and difficulties, on the whole it was a fairly positive experience. There was a sense of newness and all of us being in this together. I threw myself into trying new experiences: online board games, studying an online course, trying out new recipes. I set myself projects: I made a scrap book, kept a video diary, even deep cleaned my fridge. I reassessed and adjusted my routines: I started an online exercise challenge, adjusted my morning and bedtime routines, and started going for walks each day. Zoom was new and exciting: I revelled in the opportunity to try new social experiences, such as karaoke, online quizzes, and murder mystery parties. The sunshine certainly helped too, I spent many an hour sitting in the sun reading my Bible and journaling, taking time on my walks to soak in the beauty around me.
Fast forward eight months and it was a very different story. The novelty had now worn off. The sun was no longer shining. Outside was cold and dark. Curling up on the sofa under a blanket to watch TV was so much more tempting than going out for a walk or exercising. After months of working from home on a computer all day the last thing I wanted to do during the evenings and weekend was socialise online. Some of those healthy new routines and habits from lockdown one had started to dwindle and my enthusiasm for new recreational projects and Spring cleaning had well and truly disappeared. Enthusiasm and zeal had been replaced by boredom and monotony.
“Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
As I reflected on this stark contrast of experiences, I got to thinking about the parallels I could see in my relationship journey with Christ. At the beginning, when I first became a Christian, everything was brand new and exciting. Yes, it was unknown and a little scary at times, but my passion and zeal for this new relationship compensated for it. I couldn’t get enough of the Bible, I wanted to know all I could. I wanted to share with everyone what I now knew. I was excited to worship and pray and read my Bible, I wanted to spend all my time with Jesus. However, as I’ve grown and matured in my relationship with Christ that initial ‘novelty-factor’ has worn off. If I’m fully honest there are times that I struggle to get really excited about reading my Bible every day, days when that extra half an hour in bed seems much more tempting than quality quiet time with God, moments when my prayers feel a little bit like going through the motions.
Does that mean I love God any less? NO!
In fact, I think it’s in these times that our faith and relationship with God are really shown for what they are. These are the moments where the true depth of the relationship is revealed. You see, it’s a lot easier to worship when we’re filled with enthusiasm and passion and things are going well. It costs a whole lot more when we’re exhausted, depleted, disappointed, and lack motivation. The decision to pick up the Bible and read when it’s the last thing we want to do in that moment speaks volumes about our commitment. Sometimes the one-word prayer on our knees when it’s all we can manage is the most powerful prayer we will ever pray.
When the novelty and initial zeal wear off, that’s where I believe true relationship begins.
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So, when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honour on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
1 Peter 1:17