What does it mean to go deeper in your spiritual life? That’s what we’re going to be tackling in our newest series on the AllMomDoes podcast. Join Julie Lyles Carr for this special series kick-off episode, where Julie shares that some of her times of spiritual stagnation have come when she felt like she was doing all the things she was ‘supposed’ to do, and how God can take you on a different path to learn to walk more closely with him.
What does it mean to go deeper in your spiritual life? I’m Julie Lyles Carr. This is the AllMomDoes Podcast. We are kicking off a brand-new series about going deeper in your spiritual life. And we’re going to have a number of fantastic people who are gonna have some ideas and some advice and some how-not-to’s, along the way. And so I really am thrilled that we’re gonna be exploring this topic. I think it’s one that will encourage you, hopefully will challenge you in some ways, inspire you. So it’s gonna be a great series as we turn the corner heading into the end of the year. Can you believe it? So I’m excited to be with you over the next few weeks in this new series.
I would love to tell you that when I was in vocational ministry, if you have been a listener for a while, you’re probably aware that I was part of a ministry staff for a long time and I, of course, continued to write in the faith space, and podcast, all of that. I’d love to tell you back in those days when I served on a church staff that, you know, I was teaching multiple times a week from scripture, I was at all the conferences and trainings for everything when it came to spiritual life, I was at more church services, uh, than your average bear cuz I was at a large church. We had many services across Sundays, and I was at all of them. And so I would love to tell you that in all of that activity, I was at my deepest connection with God in my spiritual life. Well, plot spoiler. Um, yeah. No, not so much. Now, was I trying to live my life? Well, yes. Did I take very seriously the responsibility of being someone in a leadership position in a faith community? Absolutely. Was I spending a lot of time in God’s word? Mm-hmm, sure was, a lot. Was I listening to all the music and all the things? Uhhuh, I was. Was there value in that? Yes, there was, but I just gotta tell you those things were great tools. They were a great support. It was a great way to lead my life. But it didn’t necessarily all mean that I was at some of the deeper points in my walk with God, the deeper moments where I was really leaning into him, the deeper moments where it just felt like I could just see and feel him guiding me very, very closely. No. Now, all that activity did not necessarily mean that I felt like I was really growing in my spiritual life. I think the way I would say it is I was maintaining my spiritual life, and maybe that resonates with you. I have to say. There’s nothing wrong with a maintenance phase, how do you like that? You know, when you have been through a season where you’ve decided to really get in shape and get your nutrition on track and all that kind of stuff? Maintenance phase has always been one of the tough ones for me because as long as I’ve had sort of a mission; I wanna get from here to here, I wanna be able to run a mile in this amount of time, I wanna be able to lift this amount of weight. When I was in those building places, I tended to be a lot more focused and a lot more laser-on. Maintenance has always been kind of tricky because that’s the place where your stuff can kind of start to slip in, right? Well, hey, this cupcake’s not gonna hurt anything. Well, I’ve already hit the goal weight, or I’ve already hit the goal for how many miles I wanted to do so I can ease up a little.
So I’ve gotta tell you, if you’re in a season where you’re doing all the things externally that we tend to think are very supportive of having a deeper spiritual life, I just want you to do a little bit of a self-check. Are you really growing or are you maintaining? And again, there’s beauty in maintaining. Getting to a place where you can maintain can be hard, there can be a lot of hard things along the path in that way. The challenge to me is in my own world, trying to understand the difference between maintaining and stagnating, and I wanna say that again. The difference between maintaining and stagnating. That is tricky for me because there are times that I should be taking joy in simply maintaining a relationship with where it is with God. There are times that I sometimes think, well, am I just stagnating? Because maybe I’ve been in a season where there have been some really incredible spiritual highs, and I think that that’s how it’s always supposed to continue. And so this idea of just hanging out with God, just kind of being right there, well, maybe that doesn’t feel like enough and maybe I’m going stagnant. I’ve certainly had experiences in my life with people who were always looking for the next spiritual high. Do you know what I’m talking about? Like there was always the next conference, or the next teacher who could come in, or the next revelation, or the next sign or wonder that was going to take things even deeper in their way of thinking. Is that spiritually going deeper? Is it? We’re gonna talk about it.
But there have also been times that what I thought was sort of just maintaining my relationship with God, getting with my church community consistently and being in his word on a consistent basis, that I would’ve said, Yeah, I’m maintaining, but really what was happening was I was stagnating. I wasn’t growing, I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t in this place of looking for him. I wasn’t in this place of wonder, and it was stagnation. So I don’t know what it is for you right now, but I do wanna ask you that question and, and you don’t have to answer it immediately. Like, take a few days to think about this, to meditate on it. Are you in a season of maintaining your faith or are you stagnating? And are you potentially confusing a season in which you’re sweetly just walking alongside with God that’s good and that’s sweet, and you’re saying, no, I need the next high. Okay. So just think about those scenarios and maybe where you live in there right now.
Now I can also tell you there was a season of some deep growth and that had to do with some really huge challenge in this extended play episode we had in terms of my dad’s very cataclysmic illness, and when he passed, then my father-in-law’s shocking diagnosis and his death five weeks later. Then my mother-in-law right after that, and then my grandmother and then my mom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. It was just, wow. Certainly, in those times I felt God was with me. I definitely felt like there was a depth to my spiritual walk that was happening in that season. There was a fresh perspective on eternity and what it means and how fast time moves. A friend of mine has said it this way, that when you are faced in the situation of losing someone, you’re so close to that, the veil between this life and the eternal life becomes very thin in a beautiful way. There seems to be an access to spiritual things when you’re that raw, when you are that vulnerable, and that was very beautiful. That was something that was really gorgeous that came out of those incredibly difficult seasons, was a level of growth that was very powerful.
However, I think that’s part of the issue too, when we talk about going deeper in our spiritual lives, for some people, they’re always looking for the crisis because that’s the only place they know how to engage to go deeper. Does that make sense? I mean, just think about it. Obviously, we want God to be right there with us when we go through fiery furnaces of experiences, of course. But that is not the only time that we can go deeper in our spiritual walk. We don’t have to wait for crisis to lean in deeper with God. That’s where I think we can get kind of convoluted. We want there to be a formula for how we can seek him, or we want there to be a silver lining to all tough times that means, oh yeah, we went so much deeper in our spiritual walk. You know, there are people who go through really tough things and that is not how they feel. They don’t feel that they’ve gone deeper in their spiritual lives going through a tough time.
So what I wanna propose, and we talk about going deeper in our spiritual life is what if we weren’t subject to situations when it comes to the depth of our spiritual lives? And what I mean by that is this, we’re not waiting for the next crisis to drive us deeper into the arms of God, and we’re not waiting for the next, whatever you wanna call it, ministry experience, revelation, spiritual high to go deeper. What if we didn’t have to rely on circumstances to take us deeper in our spiritual walks? Now if we are in circumstances and that’s part of the fruit, awesome. But what if right now, today, you, me, in this moment could take a pause and just seek God for just a beat? God, I just want you to know I’m here and I know you are here. I know there are things you wanna show me and I wanna get quiet enough to listen. I know you want me to have eyes to see, and ears to hear. Help me do that today, in my errands, in paying my bills, in cleaning out the refrigerator. I wanna go deeper with you today. In this day that I have right now, regardless of the circumstances. What could that do for us in our spiritual lives?
You know Paul, the Apostle Paul writes about being content in all situations, and I have to wonder if that was part of what he was talking about, that he was able to see God no matter what the circumstances were that were going on. And this is someone who, talk about going deeper in your spiritual life, talk about a spiritual high. I mean, let’s remember he actually experienced Jesus as he was walking down the road to Emmaus, Paul who had killed all these Christians. He is someone who got to have this revelatory, massive, someone speaking directly to him, Jesus speaking directly to him. He got to have that. Like how do you ever go deeper in your spiritual life if you’ve had that moment? What are you supposed to do? I mean, how do you just keep creating miracle after miracle after miracle on that in order to seek God? And yet that’s not what Paul proposes as the way to live while walking in the way. He gives a lot of thought about contentment. Seeing God, whether you have a lot or a little. Seeing God, whether you’re feeling completely satiated and fed, or whether you’re hungry. Seeking God, whether your closet’s got a dozen new outfits or none. He understood how to go deeper with God regardless of what the circumstances around him were. Even as someone who had experienced unbelievable highs and lows in his spiritual life.
I think too about King David and all the body of work that we have access to today, and the Psalms, the things that he wrote, and certainly he writes a lot about his ups and downs, times of victory, times of defeat, times where he felt like he was really tracking with God, times where he really failed in terms of his sin nature. He catalogs all of that for us in his writing, but there are also Psalms that aren’t necessarily linked to major life events that just show walking with God daily. You’re with me when I rise up. You’re with me when I go to sleep. You provide for me. You’re there for me no matter what’s going on, no matter how I feel, God, you’re there. David understood that going deeper with God was something that could be accessed at any time. And sure there are times we have to dig deep. There are times that we really have to lean in hard because circumstances just don’t make it easy to stay in step with our walk. But I don’t want for myself, and I wouldn’t want for you to think that going deeper in our spiritual lives can only happen at certain special ministry events or through crisis. That’s something I really want us to lean into in this series is to know how to go deeper in every moment. I think that’s what Paul was getting at when he talked about praying without ceasing, being in this posture of prayer all the time, listening, looking for God all the time.
I’ll tell you some things in my own spiritual life when it comes to going deeper in my spiritual life that have been helpful. Now, one is external prompts. Now I wanna be careful with this one, but for me, there are little moments, little things that I have around my house or on my playlist or things of that nature that remind me to take that pause and to look up and look around at what God is doing and where he’s been with me and what message he might have for me today. And it’s, to me, it’s kinda like wearing your wedding band, right? It’s that you have this reminder. God had the Israelites raise these stones, we call them, they’re the Ebeneezer. I don’t know if you remember this, there’s a hymn that talks about Raise my Ebenezer, I raise my Ebenezer. Remember that? That’s what it’s about. The Israelites put out 12 stones as commemoration of what God had done and what God had carried them through. I think those external prompts throughout my day are really helpful. And yes, there are times I look at my wedding band. The wedding band that I wear almost all the time is one that was my grandmother Lyles and she and my grandfather were very simple people. She had this incredible garden. If you’ve read my book, Raising An Original, I have an homage to her about her incredible garden, and she really was someone who walked closely with God and her faith was just very simple. He was so real to her. And I saw that in being her granddaughter and in her walk. And so the wedding band that I typically wear every day is the one that was hers. So it’s this reminder not only of my covenant with Mike, with my husband, it’s also this reminder of the generation that went before me and of this godly woman who had this beautiful, simple relationship with God. It’s this reminder to me, this external prompt every day about the faithfulness of God in my own life, and in hers, and in the beauty of generational faith. And it makes me pause frequently and just think about, wow, God, I, I wanna go deeper with you. I want to live out the kind of marriage and be the kind of marriage partner that pleases you, that is a blessing to Mike. I wanna honor the legacy of my grandmother. I wanna remember the beautiful simplicity of her faith. Boom, right there. I’m back in the moment, an external prompt. I keep up the baby pictures of my kids, all eight kids, and reflect on them almost every day. It’s this great external reminder to continue to pray over their lives, to ask God to go deeper in their lives, to make himself known and mighty in their lives. It’s an external prompt. And I’ll tell you another external prompt that really works for me, and I know this is not gonna sound super spiritual, but I’m telling you, and that is physical exercise. I cannot begin to explain a number of times that I feel like I’ve had spiritual breakthrough, I’ve finally seen something through spiritual eyes that I feel like God has really laid something on my heart when I am in the middle of mile whatever, dripping in sweat, miles from home on a hot summer afternoon in Austin, Texas, and God shows up. There’s something about the external prompt of me getting my body in motion, doing something different that quiets my mind and allows me to go deeper in my spiritual life. So think about that. Think about the things that you can do that can be simple reminders that you’re encountering every day that connects you to God in ways that aren’t necessarily expected, that aren’t necessarily the things that we often list as do this, do this, do this. Think about the moments where you feel God’s presence and practice those as external prompts in your daily life.
Now, of course, I think spiritual disciplines are another way that we go deeper in our spiritual lives. I pray each night as I go to sleep, even if I’ve already had times of prayer throughout the day. Most of the time I drift off to sleep mid-prayer. And the little legalist to me used to really worry about that. Like I didn’t really finish my prayer last night. What if, what? And I thought, Wait, you know what? How pleased do I really think God probably is that just like a little kid falling asleep, mid story as they’re talking to you, as you’re tucking them in, that that’s the posture I have as God’s tucking me in for the night that I’m talking to him and telling him about my day and making my requests and praying over my loved ones, and I drift off to sleep before I even wrap the prayer up. I just have to think that as a parent, God loves that. And so that’s one of my disciplines. Another discipline is first thing in the morning when I grab my phone, I go directly to my Bible reading app and read a line of scripture. First thing every morning. Do I go through four chapters? Nope. Do I do some extra deep dive on something? Nope. This is just a moment, the first top of the day for the first thing that my eyes see to be a piece of scripture to encourage me throughout the day. It’s a simple discipline, but I’m gonna be honest, I’m not a member of the 5:00 AM Club. I did that for way too long when I was in, it was more like the 3:34 AM club when I was in radio and television. And then of course, with all the newborns that we brought into our home. I, I’m over that. I don’t get up then, but it is something I can do to mark the beginning of the day. Even if my day means that in the next five minutes I gotta be up and running, at least I’ve had that moment of scripture. That’s simple discipline. See, that’s where I think we can get off sometimes because we sometimes think going deeper in our spiritual discipline is going to be something about making it even harder, making it even tougher. and what I find is that when I make things accessible and I just keep returning to that base with God over and over in those simple ways, it continues to strengthen and deepen my relationship with him. Maybe that’s really key when we have this conversation about going deeper in your spiritual walk, is that sometimes I think we wanna do the deep dive instead of being content that each day we’re simply moving closer and closer to God in an incremental way. Is it great sometimes to get a really fantastic push or pull that takes us to a level of understanding we’ve never had before? Sure. But just like the word also tells us, don’t despise the day of small beginnings. Don’t despise the small moments of growth that continue to take you closer to him, because they add up over a lifetime. Praying every night as you go to sleep, reading one scripture every morning when you open your eyes, compiled over a lifetime. Do you know what the accrued interest on that is? It’s exceptional and it matters, and it counts.
Now, another thing that I do is my spiritual diet. You know, we’re all consuming stuff all the time. All the time. We are on our phones consuming stuff. We are consuming news, we are consuming books, we are consuming conversations, we are consuming the influence of others in our lives. And if we’re not thoughtful about how we’re doing it, we can have all kinds of different things coming at us. We can be eating all from all kinds of different plates, and there is a moment where I have to stop and go, Am I getting my multivitamins? I mean, really, like am I really making sure that I’m getting the nutrition I need when it comes to my spiritual diet? And here’s something I want you to think about. Just because something is marketed as Christian or just because it’s in your church’s bookstore, it does not mean necessarily, that it’s truth. We seem to have abandoned, at least in my opinion, we sometimes seem to abandon discernment when it comes to our spiritual diets, and we can get so far, so fast down something that’s become the thing, the trend, the saying, the spiritual discipline of someone else. We can take it so fast in that direction without hitting the pause and saying, God, how do you want to lead me? How do you wanna guide me? What in this resource is for me and what isn’t? What in this song is for me or aligns with your word and what is just kind of a really cool song? What do you have for me, God, that is the nutrition I need in my spiritual diet from you? And what do I need to cut out of what I’m doing that I consider a spiritual diet? You may have a teacher in your life that you really love. You may have a book or a devotional you’re really crazy about, but if you sought God on if that’s supposed to be on your spiritual plate, I mean, maybe you’ve experienced it. I certainly have. There have been times that there’s been a piece of writing by someone, or there’s been a song or something else that has been a great tool to help me move closer to God, but it can sometimes be hard to not allow that tool to become the thing that now in a sense, I’m worshiping or I’m putting more weight on than having this one-on-one conversation with God. So just take a beat to think about that. What really is in your spiritual diet? And did God put it there or is it something that has momentum, it has a trend. Other people are calling it anointed, and now you’ve decided it’s something that you wanna use. God may have something so different for you. He may have something that is so much better for you than what is popular or what’s going around right now.
And then there’s this that I wanna encourage you in. I used to say this a lot when I was leading up the ministry that I led for many years. I would say, go devo or go deep, but don’t think that this middle ground is where it’s at. And here’s what I meant by that. I knew people who did not wanna go any deeper than an inspirational devotional every morning. Great. Okay. I had other people who really wanted to dig in, soak in, go through all of the language, and go through the commentaries and look at the historical context and all the stuff, and I loved that. That’s, I’m wired more that way. I loved that. Where I would get concern for people is in that middle ground where they were just getting enough of the light stuff to keep them sort of satisfied. They get enough of the deeper stuff to make ’em ask questions, but they would live in this space where they weren’t really doing the digging and growing for themselves, but they thought they were having some deep spiritual growth. That’s why I say go deep or go, go devo or go deep and, and, because what that means to me is if you wanna keep it simple, then great. Keep it simple. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that simply because you’re listening to somebody who seems to be deep, that means you’re going deep too. God has a particular journey for you to go on, a particular invitation for you to engage in. We don’t get to draft off of each other. God has it for you. Can we strengthen each other? Can we iron sharpen iron with each other? Absolutely. But you were not meant to follow behind and be pulled into someone’s wake as they seek to go to God closer, that now you somehow that’s gonna be the way you do it too. You have a unique journey to go on with God. He has unique things to show you, and I wanna encourage you to dig in deep for yourself, and to make sure that’s what you’re doing.
You know, my dad wrestled with his faith for a long time. He was a rocket scientist. If you’ve been here with me, you’ve heard me talk about this before. And in that scientific community, he really had a lot of questions. He had an extremely keen mind. He wondered, he turned the box, he looked at things from all kinds of different angles. In my dad’s wrestling of his faith, it forced me to go deeper because he was not satisfied with some of the standard middle ground answers. He asked hard questions, which made me ask hard questions, which made me go deeper. It was an incredible gift that he ended up giving me, even though I don’t think that was originally his intention. It led me to believe strongly that fighting for your faith is faith. Fighting for your faith is faith. Going deeper, asking God the hard questions. Digging in, going deeper in the word, dealing with passages of scripture that make you uncomfortable. Living in that tension, all of that draws you closer.
You know, that’s the thing for a lot of us, I think that we think going deeper in our faith is gonna answer a lot of questions. Here’s what I’ve learned, at least for myself, going deeper in my faith just opens up new questions. Which may not sound very encouraging, but God’s teaching me. I’m learning that that’s a beautiful thing because it keeps me coming back to him. It keeps me coming back and saying, God, I don’t get this. I don’t understand this. God, help me show me. God give me insight. And you know what’s really beautiful? I don’t feel like I get a full download of answers, I don’t think he hands me a Bible track with all of the right blanks filled in. But what he does do for me is he continues to draw me close. And sometimes he shows me stuff and sometimes he whispers, trust me. And at the end of the day, going deeper in our spiritual lives, isn’t that it? Trust. Trusting him. Trusting him with the questions, trusting him with the things that don’t necessarily always make sense to us. Trusting him with the things that aren’t the way that we would do it. Trusting him that his ways are good and it’s okay for us to have questions, and it’s okay for those questions to not necessarily have the answers right now. Isn’t that going deeper in our spiritual lives? Trust?
So, those are some of the things that we’re gonna be talking about over this series, as we prepare to go into the Christmas holiday season. That place in history, that moment where we celebrate that the depth of our connection to God was going to be expanded even more in the person of Jesus Christ and his gift of the Holy Spirit. So we’ve got some great guests coming up. I cannot wait for you to hear all the incredible conversations that we’re gonna have over the course of this series about going deeper in your spiritual life. And I wanna make sure that you are tapping into all the goodness that is part of AllMomDoes, so go to AllMomDoes.com, check that out. Check out AllMomDoes on the socials. I’m on the socials too as Julie Lyles Carr. I’d love to hear from you. As always, we want your questions, your comments, your feedback, all of it. Please slide into the DMs and comments and let us know how this new series is impacting you and the things that you’re noticing and the questions you’re developing as a result, we would love to hear from you, and I can’t wait to see you next time on the AllMomDoes podcast.