Psalm 55:6, “And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then I would fly away, and be at rest.”
At some point in every baseball player’s life, he experiences what is known as a “hitting slump.” He swings and swings and swings, but the bat just does not connect with the ball. He practices and practices, but to no avail. This is simply a normal part of every ball player’s career.
Similarly, every Christian hits an emotional and spiritual slump. You wake up one day feeling you are in the middle of a losing streak. The charm of life is missing. You remember the days of being on the mountaintop, but you cannot seem to climb to those heights, again. You realize instead of having a joyous Christian life, you are simply going through the motions. Yet, you desperately want to feel what you once felt and what others are still feeling.
There was a time when your heart would burn as you read the blessed Scriptures; you used to weep over its pages, and you would tingle and rejoice. Now you no longer feel the same. You once enjoyed your prayer time, your audience with the King of kings and Lord of lords. You realized you were talking with the mighty Creator of the universe. You had a joy and a thrill when you went boldly before the throne of grace to present your petitions and find grace to help you in times of needs. However, something has happened, and that thrill is no longer there.
When the pastor asked you to take a Sunday school class, you were overjoyed with the privilege of teaching the eternal Word of God to the eternal souls of those pupils. Now, however, it is a drudgery to teach that class. When you brought a bus full of children to Sunday school, you were so excited that they would have the opportunity to hear the message of grace. Now you wish you could feel that way, again. What is wrong with you?
Maybe you have an overwhelming urge to leave a note on your boss’s door and just disappear. You would like to keep driving into the sunset. You would like to dispose of your spouse, your mother-in-law, and your children. This feeling is not unique to you. It is not unique to preachers or lay people, to men or women, to teenagers or adults. Everyone has similar feelings at one time or another. Some simply have learned to fake it and not let their faces show their feelings.
The great prophet Elijah found himself in a slump. He stood against 450 prophets of Baal and called down fire on his sacrifice. Afterwards, he directed the people of Israel to slay the false prophets. Then, he called down rain on a parched land.
Yet, in I Kings 19:4 we read of Elijah, “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.”
In verse 14 he said, “…I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
Moses, the great leader of Israel, also had a slump. In Numbers 11:11‑12, we find him talking to God. 11“…Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? 12Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?”
Moses was complaining that God had given him the burden of caring for the Israelites. He was complaining that he had to babysit them and deal with the troublemakers. Why was he complaining? He was suffering a time of depression, or, if you please, a slump.
Notice this statement: “The future appalls me. I dare not think of it.” Can you imagine who would have written such a depressing statement? It was made by John Calvin, the reforming preacher. Martin Luther, the man who spearheaded the Protestant Reformation, once said, “I am sick of this life, if it can be called life at all.”
I am not talking about a period in your life when you are overtaken by sin. I am not talking about being backslidden. You are not getting drunk or running around on your spouse. I am talking about times when you are going to church and serving God. You are doing the best you can, but nothing seems to be the same.
You read your Bible and pray, but your walk with God is not exciting to you. Church attendance is drudgery. The thrill has gone out of choir practice. You feel like you are running around in circles, and you seem to be going nowhere. You are going through a slump. Here is some advice about what to do while you are in your slump that will help you through this period of time.
Do Not Change a Thing
When you are in a slump, you should not change anything. Keep the same schedule. Keep reading your Bible, praying, and going soul winning. God is testing you to see why you really serve Him. He wants to know if you serve Him out of love or feeling. Do you serve Him because you love Him, or because you want to feel that tingling feeling?
This is what separates mature Christians from immature Christians. If you serve God just because you tingle, then when the battle gets hot, you will run. If you serve God for applause, then you will quit when people want to crucify you.
You should not read the Bible for the thrill of learning something new; you should thrill because God tells you to read His Book. When the day arrives that you no longer want to teach your Sunday school class, become a mature Christian and continue to teach and build that class. Teach that class because you love God, not because you want a thrill. When your motivation for serving God is based on love for Him rather than a thrill, you are maturing.
Are you in a slump? Pray as you have always prayed. Keep having your devotions every day. Keep going to church and tithing. Keep going soul winning. Do not change a thing. God wants to know if you are real. Do you serve Him out of love and obedience, or do you serve Him just for the thrill of having 100 riders on your bus? Do you serve Him just because you have 10 baptisms on your bus route or you break your Sunday school attendance record? Do you serve Him for fun, or because you love Him?
The thrill is a by-product of serving God, but it is not the reason to serve God. Not every week can be a big day. We enjoy the thrills of the campaigns, but not every week will be a thrill. There will be weeks when it is 100 degrees, and no one on the bus has taken a bath for a week. There will be times when you do not want to pray. Nevertheless, do not change a thing; just keep doing what you have been doing.
DO NOT MAKE ANY MAJOR DECISIONS
Most of our decisions are made when we are in a slump, yet that is the worst time to make decisions. When you are blue, sick, or bereaved, it is not the time to make any major decisions. When church members are in a slump, they often become upset and quit. They never stop to consider that the problem may be their lack of obedience to God in reading the Bible, praying, going to church, and going soul winning. Many lives have been destroyed because someone made a bad decision while in a slump.
DO NOT RUN TO ANYTHING NEW
When I was in high school, Dick McCullough, a left-handed player, was playing for the Detroit Tigers. He held his bat high in the air, and did everything just the opposite of the way it was supposed to be done, yet he batted .298 and .300. When he was playing for the Tigers, they were world champions.
During those years, I was playing baseball, and I was the leading hitter on the team. I hit a bit of a slump, and, deciding to try something new, I tried to hit like Dick McCullough. It did not work, and I could not hit anything. It was a mistake for me to try something new.
The world’s solution to a slump is trying something new. However, if you keep running to something new, eventually you will run out of new things to try. If you have to buy a new toy every time you are in a slump, you will quickly find yourself in trouble. There are not enough things in the world to perpetually keep you out of a slump. That is not the answer to your problems. Keep doing what you have been doing.
DO NOT BLAME ANYTHING OR ANYONE
If you find yourself in a slump, do not blame your spouse, your parents or grandparents, your foreman, your pastor, the church, or anyone else. God is the Author of these slumps. When you point your finger at someone else, you are simply admitting you are afraid to point your finger at God. Grow up and face your slump; realize God is using it to expose the real reason you are serving Him.
FORGET YOURSELF AND HELP SOMEONE ELSE
When Dr. John R. Rice was six years old, he went to his father and told him he wanted to be saved. His father told him he was too young, that he could not get saved until he was ten years old. Rather than mope about the fact that he could not get saved yet, the young Dr. Rice said ok then I will look for children who were ten years of age or older. He told them about Christ and showed them how to be saved. He was able to lead about 90% of the children in his school, who were ten years or older, to the Lord before he was even saved.
You can do nothing about the slump you are in; help someone else, and make it easier on him. Take a bus route and keep people out of Hell. If you are in slump with the Bible, you can still teach your children the Bible and to be decent young people. If you are in a slump about your pastor, you can still learn from the sermons he preaches. Look for something in the sermons rather than slumbering through the sermons.
When you are wrapped up in someone else, you will forget about your own problems. Your burdens will not seem as heavy. If you are in a slump, you are thinking about yourself too much and not enough about others.
Everyone falls into a slump from time to time. Forget about yourself and help someone else. Stay in church. Enter your closet and talk to God about it; He is the only One Who can help you. Then, stand up and face your problem and keep going for God.