There's this quirky story in the gospel of John: There's a pool called Bethesda, and around this pool, invalids and people with various illnesses would wait for the waters to suddenly be stirred. The belief was that the first person into the pool after the water stirred would be healed. It's not clear in the story whether it actually worked - if anybody got healed by this method, but what is clear is this: that when the water was still, nothing happened.
When everything is stagnant in our lives, we will most likely not see any motion. Occasionally, we need to change our routine, change our 'normal' so that we get different results.
To paraphrase Einstein, if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten.
With that in mind, here are 10 ideas for shaking things up in your faith to get something better than 'the usual':
1. Join a group at church.
This isn't just about making yourself busy. The point here is to learn about other people's story of faith. When you're not sure what God is doing in your life, listen to what he's doing in other people's lives. Joining a small group or a volunteer team is a way to connect with others and be able to learn what God is doing in their lives.
Get out of your normal surrounds. Take a day trip or an overnight trip. If you want, make it a silent retreat. Turn down the volume of your life in order to hear the quiet whispers that may already be there.
3. Read a book that challenges your faith.
If you don't know of any books, let me make a few recommendations: Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber // Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle // Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller // The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel
Or, ask your friends about books that have inspired them.
4. Take a leader at your church out to lunch.
Ask his or her perspective on a biblical/theological/faith-centric topic that you've given consideration to. Ask them how they get out of a spiritual funk. Ask them ways you could contribute to your community of faith. Ask them anything, just so long as you get to hear a different perspective.
5. Download an app to memorize some scriptures
In multiple places, God talks about wanting his words to be in our hearts. Getting them in our head is a great first step.
Doing something you don't feel fully able to do is a great way to increase your reliance of God, which can certainly lead to a refreshed relationship. Kind of like the whole 'step out of the boat' thing Peter went through. I bet that changed his view of Jesus a bit.
This is going to sound sappy, but I mean it genuinely: if you want to experience hunger in part of your life (spiritually), it helps to experience it in another part of your life (physically). When I'm fasting and the hunger pangs start, I say 'God, my body is hungry for food, but I want to be hungry for you'. It sounds stupid, but it really does help you start to transfer that desire.
8. Read the Same Bible book over and over again.
If you're reading the Bible day after day and getting nothing out of it, try picking a shorter book, like 1 John, and read it everyday for a month. You'll start seeing what you're reading everywhere you look.
9. Start a journal
I used to be terrible at journaling. It started on day one with a list of my prayer requests and by day three it was the same prayer requests and I stopped. I could see no point or benefit. So instead of writing a prayer journal or a spiritual journey journal, I started a tumblr where I just wrote about books I read, and observations I made, and things I thought God may be showing me. I wrote every weekday for a year and it changed my life.
These are just a few ideas to get you jump started. They're all about the same basic two ideas: get a different perspective or do something that makes you a little uncomfortable.
Do you have other ways you've gotten yourself out of a rut? Please comment and share!