Finding new ways of connecting with God
Written by Jayda Hooge
What stirs your heart toward God? This question has bounced around my mind and heart for the last few years. Sometimes it’s a driving force for how I spend my time. Other times it’s a whisper reminding me to check my prioritities.
I first heard this question posed in a Bible camp staff chapel near the end of the summer. I knew going from that tight-knit camp community back to my life at home would be a hard transition. This question was something I clung to. What stirs my heart toward God? If I could identify those things and do them, the next year of university might not be as hard or lonely.
As I reflected, the things that stirred my heart to God were journalling, Bible reading, praying while I walked, and doing watercolour paintings or hand lettering. Doing these things somewhat regularly helped me to feel more connected in my relationship with God. Which in turn made me feel more satisfied and alive.
This question has surfaced in my mind once again as I reflect over the past year—a year marked by severe changes due to Covid-19. Now, I can see that my understanding of what stirs my heart toward God has broadened. I’ve learned that it’s not just reflective activities that can do this. Many other things, like taking care of my physical health, can have a similar result.
I started going for walks every day if the weather wasn’t too bitterly cold. Eventually, I began working out for the first time in my life. In the past, I’d never been interested in working out and didn’t know where to start.
Fortunately, I had a friend who gave me a ton of pointers and helped me develop a routine. I definitely hated it for the first many weeks. But now I see and feel how moving my body regularly makes me feel better and more balanced overall.
I’ve also been working on going to bed early enough (I love staying up late) and eating enough vegetables (I can easily get tired of them). At first glance, the things we do for our physical health might seem completely removed from the other parts of our being, like our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. But I can say with confidence that all of these aspects of ourselves are interconnected and directly affect each other.
Now, not only do I read my Bible, journal, and go for prayer walks with God, but I also work out, try to get enough sleep, and eat good food that will provide fuel for my body. The health-related activities are very corporeal and seemingly non-spiritual, yet our bodies are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19). And God gave us our bodies to experience Him and His abundant life with.
We can worship God not just in our minds and hearts, but with our full bodies. When I take care of my body, I feel more satisfied and alive, just as I do when I journal, paint, or pray.
Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) says, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
In these verses, Paul encourages us to give our bodies to God as “a living and holy sacrifice,” allowing God to renew our very selves. God wants every part of us, mind, soul, and body. It makes sense, then, that the things that stir our hearts toward God can and will fall under all these categories.
What stirs your heart toward God?
Maybe He wants to lead you into new avenues of relationship with Him. Are you open to broadening your perspective and letting Him into all aspects of your life, not just the seemingly spiritual parts?
Our God is a gracious Father and teacher. I encourage you to ask Him what He wants to say to you.