It’s a hard question. If you’re like me you may have been exposed to the idea that our relationship with God comes in cycles. Sometimes we feel closer to him and sometimes we feel further from him. The idea being that a life of faith is filled with peaks and valleys.
I suspect a lot of Christians raised in the church, may view their walk in this way. When our faith isn’t as vibrant, we think to ourselves ‘I’m just in a valley right now. Sure I love God and one day I plan to be more serious about it, but for now I’m fine and I know God understands.’
God may understand but I submit it’s not what he intends for me or you.
I think a lot of people have a whole host of experiences when it comes to God and specifically faith in Jesus Christ. But is our faith intended to be marked by hills and valleys? I submit that the intention is that the overall direction is growth. We will indeed experience hardships and difficulties but a living faith is borne out of those experiences.
It’s a topic worth exploring. Mainly when we enter into an active relationship with God does he promise us that our walk in faith will be one cycle after another?
Consider Jesus on this point:
“For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45 ESV).
and also in John 6:15 NIV: “In this world you will have trouble.”
You can’t look at the lives of Job or Moses or King David or the history of Israel or even the history of the Church without a sense that difficulties arise from sin, human nature, and evil (mainly the devil, the founder of lies). These are the things which give us hardship and cause us to step back from living out a vibrant active faith.
This idea of cycles in our walk with God is not really borne out in the scriptures. Ecclesiastes is focused on the different types of things God allows and permits through the seasons, it’s not a promise that we are in similar seasons at all times or that there is a perfect season to be attained, instead it shows us variety and depth in all human experience.
With the New Testament you get the ideas of fruit, abundance, seasons of fruitfulness, growth, and maturity. These are the ideas that are found in the parables of the faithful servants, and the writings of the New Testament. The ideas of agriculture are more appropriate with its focus on seasons of planting and rest, of production and sabbath rather than the ideas of balance with its focus on tinkering and adjusting until you reach a place where passion and fulfillment meet.
The Christian idea has more to do with understanding how we work and live as part of an active body. We grow and are equipped for seasons and circumstances. God provides comfort and understanding and expression in all the rich variety of our lives but calls us into transformation into a new way of being, where the old self with its lies, insecurities, and deceptions is put to death in favor of the new self with its fruitfulness, loving kindness, and purposefulness.
Faith is a deeply human condition. We are all aware that things are not how they are supposed to be. Walking with Christ is more than just help for the difficulties of this life, it is to be equipped for actual hope that Christ has overcome the difficulties, sin, and evil in the world, in your world. He has judged those things and to borrow a phrase from N.T. Wright will be working to brings things to rights. Meaning to make things right, in the ultimate sense of the word.
We may experience seasons of pain, frustration, and doubt, but the intention of our experiences is not to produce a cyclical stagnate faith. There is still yet hope for a vibrant growth lead by the Spirit, showing us the way of the Son, who Himself perfectly reflects The Father.