In 25 minutes, I would need to be on stage preaching the weekend’s sermon.
But I didn’t want to. (Quite honestly, I just wanted to go home, crawl under a blanket and zone out in front of Netflix).
Though I had in hand a sermon already prepped and prayed over, I wasn’t in the mood to deliver it. All weekend long, something had a strong hold over my emotions that I couldn’t shake off!
The annoying part about is that I couldn’t identify what the source of the spiritual funk was. I’ve been under spiritual attack before, but this really didn’t feel like that. I couldn’t think of any glaring sin in my life, otherwise I’d have confessed and repented of it. No broken relationships came to mind that I needed to reconcile. Even my prayers seemed unable to penetrate the ceiling of the room I was in.
So what the heck was wrong with me?!?
15 minutes to go.
This emotion is actually one I recognized. I’ve had extended seasons in my faith journey where what I knew to be true about God and what I felt to be true about Him had grown miles and miles apart. In those times, there was a gradual crawling out of my spiritual funk as I relied on prayer, worship, friendships, and God’s word to bridge the gap.
But here, I had only 9 minutes left before I had to jump into action.
While my dumb heart continued to refuse to cooperate, my mind was suddenly drawn to something I had heard earlier about David (the psalmist) “commanding his soul/heart” to get on board with his affections. I quickly tracked down the passage; Psalm 103:1-5, and what I uncovered in those verses was the right amount of kick-in-the-pants I needed to not only snap out of my spiritual funk, but to also deliver what several individuals would later refer to as the most spiritually insightful sermon they’ve ever heard.
Let me read it to you, then I’ll give you the 4 things I learned about snapping out of a spiritual funk - “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.”
Here’s the one crucial command those verses amounted to in those precious moments before I had to head up on stage to preach:
"GIVE MARCHING ORDERS TO YOUR HEART!"
I’ve read and quoted Psalm 103:1-5 dozens of times but I never fully understood what David was saying till this moment.
5 minutes to go.
David was clearly having a spirited conversation with his heart that went something like this:
- David’s Heart: “Just leave me alone, man, I don’t feel like worshipping or praising God today.”
- David: “Boy, you better gettup and and bless the Lord! Don’t make me…”
- David’s Heart: “But I’m so tired, and weary, and frustrated, and lonely, and…”
- David: “Imma say this one more time! GET UP AND BLESS HIS HOLY NAME!”
See what these verses are getting at?
If David had to give orders to his heart to bless the Lord, then chances are, his heart was not in the mood to bless the Lord. His heart was in a spiritual funk! So it called for some tough loving grounded in the knowledge of God’s past goodness. In other words, David snapped out of his spiritual funk by recalling to mind the good things God had done for him in times past, which is exactly what I began to do in those last 3 minutes before I Had to go preach. Verse 2: “O my soul, bless God, [and] don’t forget a single blessing!”
Though I didn’t “feel” a spiritual high flooding my heart, I understood in that moment that my love for Jesus Christ was as much a question of my will as it was of my emotion. I was going to CHOOSE to be passionate about my faith by quickly recalling to my mind all the good things God had accomplished in my life!
If you find yourself in the same situation as I, here is a list (4 of them) of God’s goodness(es) to recall to mind to help you snap out of your spiritual funk!
1. RECALL TO MIND YOUR LIST OF FORGIVEN SINS (v.3a)
“Bless the LORD, O my soul… who forgives all your iniquity” v.3a
There is a profound finality to the words Christ spoke on the cross right before He died, (“It is finished!” - John 19:30). Jesus wasn’t simply signing off on his mission on earth. In the hours leading to that statement, he had taken on Himself all the filth and stench of ALL our sin. God had essentially “made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). It was such a dark moment in history that that part of the earth literally went black and Christ had to endure a momentary abandonment from the Father, which is why he cries “out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”- which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” - Mark 15:33
This means then that there is no sin in your life that is so great that the cross of Jesus Christ isn’t greater than and powerful enough to forgive and cancel. So, as you list off your “iniquities”, whatever they may be, mentally stamp the words “PAID IN FULL!” next to it, then give marching orders to your heart to Bless the name of the Lord with gratitude.
2. RECALL TO MIND YOUR HEALED DISEASES (v.3b)
“Bless the LORD, O my soul… who heals all your diseases” v.3b
Okay sure, you don’t have the ebola virus, or malaria, or Pulmonary Hypertension, or Pneumococcal Disease or one of the hundreds, possibly thousands of diseases listed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
But that in itself should be plenty of reason for praising God, shouldn’t it?
Every morning that I wake up without Yellow Fever or without a case of Coccidioidomycosis is reason for me to bless the name of the Lord. Now, in the case that you do wake each morning up with a terminal or debilitating disease, even then, Christ always stands at the ready to hear your prayers for healing (James 5:14-16).
In some instances, He may instantaneously heal your diseases, other times, He may choose to do it gradually, and in certain cases, He may allow it to lead to death. But remember, the death of every follower of Christ is ultimately the beginning of an eternity of joy, peace, and prosperity in God’s presence!
So, you ultimately win in the end! One of the statements I often read to families when I’m officiating at a funeral is this: “From our perspective, death is a painful experience and we should rightly grieve, but understand that while you may presently be at your lowest emotionally, your loved one, through faith in Jesus Christ is at the happiest they will ever be in God’s presence and they’re experiencing joy and peace at a level you can’t even comprehend.”
This is more than enough reason to give marching orders to your heart to BLESS THE LORD!!
3. RECALL TO MIND YOUR RESCUE FROM HELL (v.4)
“Bless the LORD, O my soul… who redeems your life from the pit” v.4
The hardest truth for any human to accept is that our hearts are totally depraved.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean we are the worst and most evil beings around. It simply means that we have the capacity in our hearts to commit great acts of sin and evil. Of course, some people are worse than others. If you or I were to be lined up next to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Leader of ISIS) or Stephen Paddock (Las Vegas mass shooter), we would appear as saints.
But what if we were on a line-up with an infinitely utterly Holy God, with His loving Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit? It becomes really clear pretty quickly that what appears to be a basic goodness on an earthly level is corrupt to the core before a Holy righteous God. Unfortunately, this same holy God has declared, “all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory”, and that “the wages of sin is death.” The death spoken of here in Romans 6:23 is not simply a physical death, but an eternal separation from God in a very real fiery place known as hell.
My point? The trajectory of our lives, regardless of how good we tried to be (Isaiah 64:6) put us on a speed train leading straight into hell. Were it not for God’s mercy stirring us to cry out to Him for mercy (Acts 2:21), and were it not for the saving faith offered to us through Jesus Christ (John 3:18), then we’d be in a fiery mess!
So when you find yourself wrapped in your next spiritual funk, quickly recall to mind that the rescue operation that was already carried out to keep you from the flames of eternal hell. Sounds gloomy, I know. But it’s all the more reason to give marching orders to your heart to BLESS THE LORD!
4. RECALL TO MIND YOUR HIGHLY FAVORED POSITION IN GOD’S PRESENCE (v.4-5)
“Bless the LORD, O my soul… who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle” v.4-5
As Christians, we often talk, and rightly so, about how Jesus’ death on the cross pays the price for our sin, thereby removing the penalty and presenting us sinless before God. That HAS and will always remain true. However, There’s another part to this you may not have considered. Not only is Jesus’ death “credited” to your “account”, but Jesus’ life has also been credited to your account as a follower of Christ.
In His lifetime, Jesus Christ fulfilled every single requirement of the Law in that He perfectly obeyed and kept every jot and tittle of the law - which by the way is part of what qualifies Him to be our Savior. He lived a sinless life. So if you go down the list the list of all 613 Mosaic laws, Jesus checks off on every single one. Done. Done. Done!
Here’s how that translates into a favorable position for you in God’s presence. The reason why God’s wrath is completely satisfied is because Jesus not only died for your sins [thereby making you sinless and innocent before God], but Jesus also lived on your behalf the holy and perfect life that God demands you have to live [thereby making you righteous and holy before God].
So hear me on this. The reason why you as a follower of Jesus Christ are accepted and welcomed in God’s presence is NOT because you’re doing your best or trying harder to be a better Christian. NO! The reason God sees you as righteous and holy in His sight and why you can approach His throne of grace with confidence is because you’re RELYING COMPLETELY on the righteousness of Christ as a covering over your own sin.
How awesome is that???
It was for this reason (and these 4 reasons) that I was suddenly able to snap out of my spiritual funk right before I walked up on stage to preach when it was time for me to deliver the sermon. (If you were in Church that Sunday and saw me up front mouthing words to myself, I wasn’t praying, I was simply yelling out orders to my heart!)
Nothing about my environment changed nor did I feel a sudden filling of the Holy Spirit. I simply chose to act in confidence of what I already knew to be true. I gave marching orders to my heart to get on board with what it and I already knew to be true about God’s goodness.
So, it’s your turn.
You may not need to deliver a sermon in the next few minutes, but you have a life to live! Jesus calls you the “salt of the earth” and a “city on a hill.” In other words, He has deposited something precious in you that the world around you desperately needs.
So, get in the face of your heart and give it some marching orders today!
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.