Sometimes that doesn't just describe our life, but our relationship with God.
I've been there more times than I care to admit. I've heard all the trite phrases about being sold out, on fire, all in. Those are nice when you're feeling sold out, on fire, and all in. Not so much when the emotions wave goodbye, and you feel neutral or depressed or angry or tired or scared.
Maybe you've heard this one too: passion isn't an emotion, it's a choice. It's an oft-used phrase, at least in my circles, and though it may be clichéd, it's absolutely true. You can have passionate emotions (there's nothing wrong with that--I love feeling passionate about something) but if that's as deep as the passion runs, it doesn't take much to send it crashing down.
Passion is a choice.
And sometimes you'll have to fight against every ounce of your current feelings to make that choice. Sometimes you don't feel terribly enthusiastic about someone or something, but you choose to value them anyway. You choose to put energy into building that relationship or pursuing that project. The awesome thing about making that choice, is that if you keep making it and keep making it and keep making it . . . the feelings of passion will often follow.
Revelation 3:16 in The Message version says, "You're not cold, you're not hot--far better to be cold or hot! You're stale. You're stagnant. You make me want to vomit."
When I'm stale and stagnant, I usually want to vomit, too. Being stagnant sucks. No growth, no movement, no passion--it makes me feel gross. I find in those times, I look back longingly at seasons in my life when I was passionate. I wish I could extract the feeling of blazing enthusiasm out of the past and inject it into my present. I wish I could return to those times.
Perhaps you've been there too, or maybe you're there right now, longing for that old spark.
Guess what? It doesn't work that way.
And that's okay.
You probably know the story of Exodus--in one of the most epic exits in all of history, Moses leads his people out of slavery in Egypt and heads for the Promised Land. But in chapter 16, we find the Israelites struggling through the wilderness with nothing to eat. It is then that God provides manna, bread from heaven that covered the ground of their encampment each morning. But He instructs them to gather only what they need for today, to keep nothing for the next day.
If I were in their situation, in the middle of a desert where food is scarce, and I saw the ground blanketed in bread, I would probably want to save a few extra snacks for the road. Who knows when food will be available again, right? Obviously some of the Israelites thought the same, because a few of them kept extra manna. And overnight, it became wormy, smelly, rancid. Completely inedible.
I find that's a striking picture of what happens with us. You might have had a mountaintop experience, a spiritual high, a time when you felt deeply connected to God. I've experienced that, and if you have as well, that's amazing. But when life gets hard or boring, and those feelings aren't there anymore, you wish you could somehow go back to that. Yet you can't.
You can't feed on yesterday's bread.
You can't expect to be nourished by the time you had with God last year, last week, or even yesterday. That food, so to speak, was for that day. It's like if I eat a five course meal on Monday and think that I won't need to eat for another week. I'm going to be hungry on Tuesday, no matter how much I ate on Monday. The same is true for our spiritual lives.
I used to think that was depressing, until I realized I don't even need yesterday's bread. There's a feast spread before me today. Day after day after day, it's like God scatters fresh manna across the ground, there for the taking.
Every day I can choose to gather fresh inspiration and nourishment for my heart. Every day I can choose passion. I can choose to dig in, to be enthusiastic, and to make another connection with my Father.
Do I make that choice every day? Nope. Some days I huddle in my tent, nibbling on rotten bread. Some days I see the manna covering the ground like snow, and I don't lift a finger to fill my jar. But those choices, too, belong to yesterday.
Today really is a new day. I challenge myself, and I challenge you: gather fresh bread.