Same Old, Same Old
“You have heard it. Observe it all. Will you not acknowledge it? From now on I will announce new things to you, hidden things that you have not known.”
– Isaiah 48:6
I had to laugh when I realized what I did. Thankfully nobody was around to see my boneheaded move. As a frequent traveler, I am in out of airports and hotels all the time, which means I’m also in and out of a ton of different restrooms. I began to run out of patience as I kept waving my hands back and forth to trigger the motion detector that should have turned on the water. After about 30 seconds of this, I thought the sink was broken. When I started to move to the next sink, though, I noticed a strange looking thing called a handle on top of the faucet. I was busted. With a simple turn of the handle, I had my water.
I laughed at myself all the way back to Kansas City. But I stopped laughing when God whispered, “You do the same thing with Me.” My laughter turned to conviction as I realized He was absolutely right. Most often, I expect God to show up exactly like He did in previous occasions. “Just like last time, Lord!” Not only would I expect it, I often wanted it the same way, too. But God doesn’t work like that. Approaching God with an attitude of familiarity never works. The great prayer warrior and theologian E.M. Bounds said, “God does not repeat Himself; He does not have one pattern that He uses for everyone. He deals with every child individually, according to his or her specific situation.”
If you study the life of Jesus, you will notice that He did nothing the same twice, from sharing the gift of salvation to working miracles. His healings ranged from, “Get up, take your mat and go home,” to, “Go wash in the pool.” Why? Maybe it was His way of making sure people didn’t put Him in a box. No formulas were allowed. Don’t we love to package up our “God encounters” and export them to whoever will listen, though? Even worse is that we personally approach Jesus with familiarity and commonplace. I wonder if He laughs and says, “Nope, I won’t do it like last time. I won’t let you make your past experiences your object of worship.”
In our lives, we must always beware of worshiping an experience instead of the Lord. When God reveals Himself to us, I don’t think He plays games with us and makes it hard. It’s not a game of hide-and-seek. It’s never a question of whether or not He shows up, because He always shows up, just not the way we thought. He works in our lives in so many different and unique ways. He knows us too well and knows we would become too conditioned. He stretches us, and constantly reveals new things. When it comes to God, it’s not business as usual. We cannot approach Him in the same old ways. There needs to be freshness that brings life to our walk. We can’t approach God like I did when I waved my hand wildly in front of the faucet, expecting it to work just like the last one.
As an athlete, I fall into this trap way too often. I get caught in the mindset of, “I do this little routine and pray this little prayer, and my team will win, and I will score three goals…If it happened one time, I know God will do it again for me.” It doesn’t work like that. We can’t put God into our little boxes. Yes, disciplines are essential for spiritual growth, but not rituals. Just understand that He loves us too much to allow us to turn our experiences into idols. There is way too much to learn and experience about our Savior. If we keep going back to same experiences, we will never mature.
My challenge to you is to be committed to developing as an authentic follower of Christ. Don’t get stuck in a routine and expect the Lord to work the same way all the time. Approach Him with newness. Thank Him for the way He has worked in the past and then say, “Okay, Lord, I am ready. I won’t go back to the safe, comfortable and known experiences. Teach me something new. Reveal to me a part of Your character I don’t understand. I want more of You. No more same old, same old. Today is a new day!”
1. How do you approach God? Is there are a spirit of “same old, same old”?
2. What is the difference between a routine and rut? How can you make sure you don’t fall into a spiritual rut?
3. Why do you think Jesus avoided patterns regarding His miracles?
4. How do you think the Lord wants You to approach Him? What are some specific things you should stop doing that feeds the “same old, same old” mentality? What are some new ways you can engage God?
5. As competitors, it is way too easy to have superstitions that we have dressed up as spiritual disciplines. How can you engage God with freshness when it comes to both competition and life?
2 Corinthians 5:17
“Lord, I thank You for how You work in my life. When You work in my heart and minister to me in the secret, I praise You. Help me not to expect You to show up the same way twice. I don’t want to put You in a box. Reveal to me more of who You are. I am hungry to grow. Stretch me, Lord. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.”