A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a conference with a group of middle school students from my church. Nothing builds your character quite like being surrounded by squirrely middle schoolers excited about a weekend away from their parents. The thrill of knowing you could get pegged in the head with a hacky sack at any moment really adds to the excitement. All joking aside, I love youth conferences. I believe that so much life change can happen when students leave behind the distractions of school or home life and experience God in a real way. Often, for the first time. I feel completely in my element in that environment. Give me a room full of middle school or high schoolers any day. Adults are scary.
Anyways, during a small group discussion with a group of 7th grade girls, one of my awesome adult leaders asked the question, “When you say you spend time with God, what does that actually mean?” It was an honest and fair question. How many times do we give the typical Sunday School answers, ‘Pray and read the Bible’, but have no actual idea what that should look like? By asking this question, she opened up a conversation that became really interesting. Many girls started chiming in with answers admitting that it was really hard for them to know how to read the Bible. Where do I start? How much do I read? How do I start to understand what it says? One of the girls in the group even shared that she has dyslexia and reading the Bible is a big struggle for her. As leaders, we pressed into the conversation by admitting that reading the Bible can be challenging for all of us too. We threw out suggestions like listening to an audio version of the Bible, finding a good devotional book that helps you focus on a specific passage of scripture. I also shared that journaling has really helped in my understanding and application of scripture.
During that converstaion I realized, we often forget that we can experience time with God outside of solely reading his Word and spending time in prayer. I don’t want you to misunderstand me, reading God’s Word is incredibly important. We have to be grounded in truth to discern His voice, but we have other avenues to connect with God too. I experience God through singing worship songs, spending time in nature, writing, talking about God with close family members and friends, and through listening to sermons. Reading the Bible and spending time in prayer are important spiritual disciplines, but they are not the only ones.
Have you considered other opportunities to connect with God? Singing, dancing or drawing? Listening to music that talks about his goodness? Going on a long walk outside and admiring what he has created? Even going on a jog can be a great opportunity to connect with God. I would challenge you to explore all of the ways you can experience and grow with him.
Here’s a few songs, sermons and books that have helped me experience God lately.
Sermons – Okay, I’m presently on the Judah Smith Train. I’m not planning on getting off anytime soon. Judge me.
My Utmost For His Highest – Oswald Chambers: Amazon $7.99
Lineage of Grace – Francine Rivers: Amazon $11.55
There’s something so humbling about being in the mountains. Even if you can’t be in the mountains, get outside and enjoy God’s creation. Acknowledge the breath filling up your lungs and just be present in the moment.
What have you been doing, reading, listening to or watching lately that helps you connect with God? I’d love to swap ideas!