The Aftermath of Spiritual Breakthrough
By Nicole Unice
March 20, 2013
Nicole Unice is the director of the Praxis program at Hope Church, a residential internship for young leaders, and is the co-author of the upcoming book Start Here: Beginning a Relationship with Jesus (David C. Cook, 2014) Find out more at hopecentral.com or nicoleunice.com.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the Dallas airport waiting for my flight, letting my soul catch up with my body after an amazing weekend of teaching 200 beautiful women about the work Jesus does in all of us—transforming our failures, sins and regrets with His grace.
That morning, as we shared our last session together, I drew from my decade-ish of retreat experiences just like this, and I told them that what has happened in their hearts is not as important as what will happen in their hearts in the coming weeks and months. Because as enriching as this retreat was, we gotta come down off the mountain.
And yes, I told them, it is amazing to be together and yes, those things God did in your heart are real and yes, oh yes, wouldn’t it be great to stay right here—but we gotta come down off the mountain.
No matter how much a spiritual encounter moves us, transformation that lasts is about what happens next.
We all go through waves of spiritual breakthroughs like this. We go on a retreat, or through a rough patch where God’s presence and provision becomes all too real, or we finally get to that place in our spiritual journey where God is speaking to us in mountain-moving ways. We sense Christ’s power in our lives in a tangible way, and we start to feel like, Yes, this is what I’ve been waiting for!
But no matter how much we feel transformed in a spiritual encounter like this, transformation that lasts is about what happens next.
Spiritual breakthroughs are great—they can open our eyes and deeply shape us. But life happens too fast for us to stay there forever. So we have to learn how to enjoy the highs when they come, and weather the lows when they also come—because they will.And so, here’s four tangible next steps to take as you come down the mountain, to help you hold onto what you’ve learned that weekend and maintain momentum.
1. Pray as if it’s your lifeline.
“Prayer is our spiritual breathing apparatus,” my pastor always says. Go home and try this, something I learned at a middle school camp: When you wake up in the morning, say, “Good morning, God.” That is the opening of your prayer. When you go to sleep that night, say “Amen.” Make your entire day a conversation with God.
2. Use your imagination for transformation.
Consider Colossians 3:12, which tells us to clothe ourselves. Tomorrow morning, when you put on your clothes, imagine yourself putting on your new self. Give each item of clothing an attribute, and as you dress, imagine yourself putting on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Read the Gospels. Ask yourself the questions that Jesus asks people. Put yourself in the story. Imagine it happening. Let it unfold. And repeat—every day.
3. Meditate and memorize Scripture.
Sometimes our anxieties get stuck in our head. Anxieties are like the “Electric Slide” (boogey woogey woogey woo!)—getting stuck in our heads even though we don’t want them. So Change the station.
When we offer a sacrifice of praise, we die to ourselves–our agenda, our idea of how things should go, our plans, our dreams.
Psalm 119:97 says “Oh how I love all you’ve revealed! I reverently ponder it all day long.” Most of us cannot spend our days staring into our Bible. You’ve got to get some of those verses into your heart so that you can change that anxiety station whenever it pops up. Even if you memorize one verse this entire year, that’s one more verse in your soul. And God’s word is living and active and never returns void. As Beth Moore says, “No time is wasted in God’s word.”
4. Offer a sacrifice of praise.
If praise was always a feeling that just welled up in us, why in the world would Hebrews 13:15 say “Let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise?” Last I checked, sacrifice always had a cost associated with it. Sacrifice requires killing something or giving something precious up. When we offer a sacrifice of praise, we die to ourselves–our agenda, our idea of how things should go, our plans, our dreams. We tell our souls that no matter how we feel about it, God is truly faithful. No matter if we feel like praising or not, he is worthy of our praise. And when we do that, continually and intentionally, He gives us back in abundance—because our hearts are transforming.
And that’s worth coming down the mountain for.
This article originally appeared on nicoleunice.com.