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Guest Blogger: Jon Saunders (Campus Director)

Michigan is a great state to live in, except for the month of March. The promise of summer is still a ways off and the reminder of a cold winter is still present. The snow is gray and slushy. The grass and flowers are dead. Everything feels dull. In March I long for the summer months when the cold and grey is replaced by warmth and vibrancy. Often it’s easy to become bored with God and see him like a slushy March day in Michigan. Here are a few things I try and remind myself of to keep me from the dangerous sin of being bored with God.

Pay Attention

In every second of life God is doing a million amazing things that, when thought about, should make our jaw drop. Stars still hang in the sky, romance with my wife is still wonderful, ants still march in lines and fish still swim on the bottom of the ocean with light bulbs hanging off their heads (technically these are called Angler Fish but that ruins the fun). If life is boring it is because we aren’t paying attention to all that God is doing.

These two quotes from Chesterton help me to pay attention.

It is one thing to describe an interview with a gorgon or a griffin, a creature who does not exist. It is another thing to discover that the rhinoceros does exist and then take pleasure in the fact that he looks as if he didn’t. One searches for truth, but it may be that one pursues instinctively the more extraordinary truths.

When I’m daydreaming I can drift into thoughts of living in Narnia. Wouldn’t it be fun to meet Mr. Tumnus? But then I come back to reality and realize I have something better than meeting Mr. Tumnus. God has made a rhino instead. Lewis had to borrow from God’s imagination to come up with his creatures. God invented real creatures without borrowing from anyone.

And here is the other quote from Chesterton:

It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.

This gets me every time. I have 3 kids and I honestly wish I could be more like them. Kids notice simple things and simple things make them incredibly excited. The older I get the less excited I get and I hate that part of me. Lord, keep me from being a boring grown-up. How I long for heaven when I’ll be childish in all the right ways and I’ll sit and stare at the sun in wonderful amazement knowing that God speaks a happy command and the sun hangs in the sky.

See Worldly Enjoyment as a Category for Greater Enjoyment in God

I often tell my friends that Reformed theology has caused me to love to eat. They usually think I’m joking but I’m not. In fact, Reformed theology has not just increased my love for food but also for sports, sex, friendship, nature and a hundred others things. What Reformed theology does is help us to see the world as God’s wonderful gift to draw us to him. Using the language of Colossians 2:16 every part of this world is a shadow that is intended to draw us to the substance of Christ. The command then is that we maximize the shadows so that we would feel the substance even more.

If you eat food and are bored by it then you will see God as boring. When I eat I try and pay attention to each specific flavor on my tongue because the more I eat and enjoy that taste the more I will long for God. If shrimp and grits taste this good in a fallen world then I can’t believe how good it’s going to be to live in an eternal covenantal relationship with the God who imagined and created the taste of shrimp and grits! It is clearly a sin to worship the worldly gifts of God, but is also a sin to not enjoy what God has given as a way of longing for him more.

God does not intend boring lives for us. Atheists live in the gray because the end of their lives is nothing but for us we live in color because God is sovereign and happy. He is working millions of amazing miracles each second, the greatest of them being I’m still a Christian. Lord, keep me from the sin of boredom with you.

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12 thoughts on “Fighting Boredom with God”

  1. Robert Wille says:

    And God gave us the music of Bach, Handel, Telemann, Albinoni, and Vejvanovsky. I can’t imagine that the music of heaven will be more beautiful, but I know it will be. Thanks, Jon.

  2. Melody says:

    I like your thoughts on not being bored with God. Sometimes I do need to take time out and look around at how amazing God is.

    But…I don’t understand why *reformed* theology makes you less bored with God. What is it about reformed theology specifically that makes you enjoy your food more than if you were arminian or whatever?

  3. David says:

    Well, except that March 2012 had some 80 degree weather! But that was weird. Pleasantly weird.

  4. David says:

    And Melody, the “Reformed” twist maybe is a little odd, since he’s quoting Chesterton here, who was Catholic and not particularly favorable toward Reformed theology, as I recall! I do think Reformed churches do particularly well at teaching that *every* good thing is a gift from God. Other Christians can certainly believe that too, the point just isn’t emphasized as strongly, in my experience, anyway.

  5. a different David says:

    I think that the danger of boredom with God is the same thing as the danger of boredom in one’s marriage, or other intimate relationship. Relationships and intimacy over a lifetime take effort and attention. Often I am amazed at my wife, by her beauty, strength, and capability. Those are the times when sustained intimacy comes easily. Other times I need to remind myself of those things (the point of the post), or remind myself that the intimacy of relationship is worth effort. Intimacy is never sustained, though, in the absence of intentionally spending time and attention with the loved one.

    With God it is easy to think that time in religious or intellectual activities is the same as time spent on the relationship. It isn’t the same thing.

  6. Jon Saunders says:

    Yes, it is ironic that I would quote Chesterton. He uses quite strong language in “Orthodoxy” condemning John Calvin and claiming that the doctrine of predestination is ugly and alien. He claims this this sort of logical thought drives people to insanity. This is where Chesterton misreads Reformed Theology and would also be my answer to Melody. What Reformed Theology does better than any other theological system is hold up the supremacy of God in all things in such a way that the division between the sacred and the secular no longer exists. Since God is supreme over all and has supremely spoken all into being, we therefore have the joy of seeing God in and through all things. I’m not convinced any other system provides this God centeredness to life. The best Calvinist ought to think poetically and linearly since God has made both and is glorified in both.

  7. Todd Ellis says:

    Are these Chesterton quotes from “Orthodoxy” or another work?

  8. Randy in Tulsa says:

    A very “romantic period” piece. And we can thank the romantics for some very sublime changes in the practice of the Christian religion in America. Just ask any God fearing unitarian. The problem is you won’t find one.

  9. Randy in Tulsa says:

    Maybe we Christians should delight more in the Sabbath than in our own pleasure? Isaiah 58:12-14: And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in. “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

  10. Katherine says:

    I appreciate the comment that someone made about the matter of being in a relationship with God. I think in my experience, boredom comes when there’s no freshness. Of course, God is always fresh. The question is do we stop ourselves from our busy life to take time to be refreshed by Him?

    It’s funny but it does require our conscious stopping to be quiet before Him, converse with Him in an intimate and affectionate way, even to say, “Thank You, Lord, for You have always loved me and You are always drawing me, courting me, wooing me to turn to love You back.”

    I believe a romantic relationship with God overcomes boredom and mere routine, don’t you think?

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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