(Insert dramatic typography to transition to a flashback)
As my eyes slowly open, the once joyfully received LSU Fight Song quickly turns into my worst enemy. I fling my arm toward my dresser to stop my alarm to no avail.
Duh, Duh, Duh, Duh – repeatedly blares until I reluctantly get out of bed.
Eyes still drowsy, I find my way to the coffee pot. Then the casual check of social media follows before I jump in the shower to get ready and conquer the day.
After all its Monday and Mondays just – sometimes – aren’t fun. I get in my car for my long three minute commute to campus. After a full day of classes, I quickly hustle back to my car. You know that person who walks awkwardly fast without running? Yes. That was me.
I get in my car and quickly jolt over to my job. Before you know it, I’m home. I eat, hang out with Kayla, watch some Monday Night Football and call it a night.
It was a normal Monday. As a matter of fact, this was a normal routine for six days of the week. However this particular Monday was a sharp contrast to the previous day.
See, the day before my routine was different. After sleeping in I drank a full cup of coffee while watching ESPN’s NFL Countdown. I even had time to iron a shirt. I got in my car and drove 25-minutes (not the normal three-minute commute) to our church.
At church, I saw faces I didn’t see throughout the week. I drank fancy coffee I didn’t normally drink. I sang songs I didn’t know that well. I encountered a God I didn’t know any other day of the week.
But, it wasn’t just me. My wife (girlfriend at the time) Kayla – who grew up in church – felt the same way.
At this point, I openly called myself a Christian. I experienced Jesus before. I even got over some of my bad habits and changed for the better. We honestly loved Jesus, but we didn’t see him – or care to know him deeper – on any day that wasn’t Sunday.
There wasn’t one moment that led to this apathy toward God. It was behaviors and patterns that ultimately led to a disconnect. Have you ever bought something new – let’s say a phone, or even car – and in the beginning, you’re captivated by it?
It has all our attention. We check out every feature and use it an exorbitant amount. After a while though it just becomes another phone or car. You still use it, but it’s not what it once was to you.
That’s pretty much how you could have defined our relationship with God. As we all get 2018 started, I’m willing to bet that God is a high priority in your life. If we all want to pursue God deeper in the new year, it requires reflection and self-awareness.
We’re going to re-live some behaviors we demonstrated in our lives that led us to ask the question – where is God on Monday? As you begin to revitalize or take a next step in your relationship with God, let’s identify together if there’s any of these behaviors in our lives.
We were challenged, but we still didn’t feel like doing anything.
I can’t tell you how many times we felt inspired leaving church on Sunday. We were ready to change the world. We felt cut to our core as Christians. We envisioned thousands of students who called LSU home to be transformed by God’s presence.
But, guess what? When we got home just 25 minutes after feeling this way – nothing changed. The initial zeal wore off and by Monday life and routine continued.
This cycle increased week after week. After the first song, we asked God for forgiveness for our neglect of Him for the week, and by song four we were worshipping expressively and engaged with God again. All the while, we were challenged but never putting action to our faith.
This continued pattern eventually led to our next behavior.
Outside of Sunday, we didn’t read our Bible or pray once.
I feel like I need to reiterate something. We loved Jesus. We attended church. We even tithed (gave 10 percent of our income). We experienced God’s presence. We were challenged by our pastor to impact others with this same experience.
With that said – as two people who loved Jesus – we didn’t read our Bible or spend any time in prayer with God outside Sunday.
We each worked 30 hours a week along with 25 hours of class paired with internships and the budding social life of a college student. Where was there time for God? Surely, He understood – right? You guessed it. On Monday – one day after being challenged – the excuses were plentiful.
Still, despite the invisibility of our relationship with Jesus six days a week – He graciously met us each Sunday. At the time we couldn’t see it this way, but we were later humbled by this thought.
When I met Kayla (you can read our whole story here), we talked A LOT. We spent four hours a night on the phone. We spent most of our days together. We were enamored with getting to know one another on a deeper level.
How would my relationship with Kayla look if I spent one hour with her a week? Can you imagine this: You’re in the living room talking to your significant other and before you leave you tell them, “hey I’ll talk to your tomorrow.”
They wait for your call, but you never pick up the phone. Instead, you walk in to their house one week later acting like nothing is wrong. You even pick up the conversation from last week.
Your significant other doesn’t hold a grudge. They treat you the same way they did the previous week. Talk about a gracious relationship. It’s also one that isn’t reality – a relationship like that won’t last.
So, the more we chose not to engage with God on Monday (and the other days) the more we felt disconnected. God began to feel like a friend from high school you always mean to call but never do.
We compartmentalized our lives – there was a time for everything.
Ultimately those two initial behaviors led to compartmentalization.
Everything had a place and time within the 24-hour day while each activity never bled over to the next.
Sunday was for Jesus and football.
Monday-Thursday was for school and work.
Friday was for school, work, and social life.
Saturday was LSU football.
Church – but more importantly, Jesus -- became an activity and not a relationship.
It was another detail sketched on the calendar. We gave each activity our all. We prepared and studied for class – often cramming in the library each night. We worked hard at our jobs, which eventually led to two life-changing opportunities. We traveled to every LSU away game – giving them our best support.
We pursued Jesus with everything we had … on Sunday.
That vast distinction between an activity and relationship is that a life lived pursuing the Creator isn’t reserved for a one hour block on Sunday.
Our life was full of activities, but it wasn’t full of purpose.
On one Wednesday we sat around after work and decided to go to church, which wasn’t a normal part of our routine.
As we exited our church waving bye to smiling faces we wouldn’t see again until Sunday, we got into Kayla’s car. As was a normal occurrence after church in Baton Rouge, we were hit with immediate traffic upon leaving.
As we turned on to Siegen Drive we didn’t say a word, which was uncommon. We sat there at a red light that felt like an eternity – so peculiarly long it felt like almost (in hindsight) that God paused time for a minute.
We locked eyes as we both felt a heavy presence in the car. Little did we know that the next statement in that car would shape our entire lives while destroying these behaviors.
Next post: Tuesday, January 23, 2018