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Stirring your affections for Christ | This Pilgrim's Progress | lorraineyeung

Stirring your Affections for Jesus

Barely trying to love with my all

A large part of me is still in limbo, in a land between struggle and expectant joy. I’m in a place where loving God and seeking Him is not easy. There is an incongruity in my mind where I am uninterested in nurturing my relationship with God and yet I long to be close to Him. I walk around aimlessly and thirsty for Him, yet I am distracted in my prayer and time with Him. Does anyone else do this?

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30 ESV)

The Holy Spirit reminds me that I ought to love God, which is to pursue a knowledge and relationship with Him, with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my strength. I’ve barely tried to love God with my all. Still, He reminds me to do so with my everything, even when my desire doesn’t come easy.

A Fear of Sin Revealed

Historically, when I look back at my past, I go in cycles of a desire to be affirmed work towards position or place within the body, and when I’m acknowledged or affirmed as a leader, I shortly have a big burn out and break down. Listening to this sermon earlier from a Desiring God Conference, I’m convicted that I have forgotten the gospel in that cycle. My affirmation should not come from having a place or position in the body, and secondly, having a position of leadership doesn’t mean you have to have it all together. Usually when I’ve been affirmed in the past as a leader or deacon within the body, shortly after I realise how far I fall short. Instead of turning to Christ for my forgiveness and repent and having my affections for Christ stirred in me, I turn to works to try and cover up my sin and wretchedness.

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Revelation 2:4-5 ESV)

I realise that now in my six and a half years of being a Christian, the joy of the salvation and forgiveness that I had in Christ is not as when I was a young believer. Somehow I fear that man would discover how ugly my heart still is uncovered and I don’t believe that I ought to be in any position of leadership with the sin I still have. Somehow I have a false perception of how I view my leaders and feel that I don’t measure up to them.

I remember this verse from the Psalms and am reminded that not only is the joy in the Lord my strength but that God can restore to me the joy in my salvation.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:12 ESV)

Finding the things that stir my affections for Jesus

I’m also reminded that I ought to pursue those things that stir my affections for Christ and acknowledge and discern the things the rob my affections for Him. If I am to consider the things that make me delight in the person and work of Jesus, here’s a brief list.

Things that stir my affections for Christ

  • Spending time in the word and having the Holy Spirit reveal a deep truth to me through it
  • Geeking out in theology
  • Long walks with conversations about Jesus
  • Speaking the gospel into situations
  • Finding and taking photos of the beauty around me on long walks or drives
  • Writing/blogging about the person and work of God in my life
  • Teaching the Gospel and the person and work of God to people
  • Watching dogs or animals play and experience joy
  • Hearing and reading about Christian testimonies on storyframes.org or other sites
  • Being able to observe people who are being transformed by the gospel
  • Ministering and serving those who are struggling
  • Being bored and quiet where I can think and process
  • Spending time in prayer and intentional face-to-face time with Christ
  • Reminding myself of what Jesus saved me from and how He saved me

Things that rob me of affections for Christ:

  • Being concerned about web traffic or my “fame”
  • Busyness and chasing after distractions
  • Binge-watching TV shows
  • Allowing myself to participate in slander and gossip
  • Obsessing about the latest gadget, travel destination, style
  • Comparing my life with others through social media
  • Being ensnared on social media
  • Belittling and refusing to put my sin to death
  • Being distracted and not fully present with those I’m with
  • Failing or refusing to bring my sin to the cross

How about you, what stirs or robs your affections for Jesus?

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  • Olivia Migenes

    Lorraine, I always look forward to these posts and feel as though we’re on that same boat. That verse in Psalms, “restore to me the joy of salvation”, had been in my heart as well. My affections need to be stirred as well and wrote something along those lines in my new post on the study of Hosea, A New Song. The fires of our affection need to remain ablaze or else we can easily become sluggish in the things of the Lord. So many little things contribute that it’s hard to pin down exactly where it started, bouts of depression here…choices for disobedience there.

    I’m actually reading the book of Joel now. Amazingly compact but powerful book on how the locusts eat away our blessings and how we need to return to the Lord with weeping and fasting. Then He will restore what the locusts have ravaged as though they hadn’t been there.

    Thank you again for opening up the window to your heart and showing us that Christianity isn’t perfect but our love for Christ is necessity!

    • That’s so cool Olivia, I love how the Holy Spirit communicates with us and confirms Himself like that, brings me so much joy to know that He’s speaking to you clearly and confirms and reminds me to pray that God would restore my joy in salvation.

      I just read your post, and I can feel that passion swell within you through your words. I love how His Spirit is just reminding you of all these truths from all these past stories and from what He’s done in your life.

      And I love, love, love, that He’s showing us the same verses!! haha, so so cool.

      I look forward to what He’s going to show you in Joel. It’s so amazing the restorative power of God. I was reading in Daniel how King Nebuchadnezzar went crazy one day because God wanted to discipline him for His pride and became like a crazy vagrant crawling on all floors for a while like an animal. And I when King Nebuchadnezzar repented not only restored to him his kingship, but gave him back his kingdom, and the lords and councillors even returned to serve him (even though they saw how crazy he went ) – and then I think of Job. It’s so amazing how God can restore to us things 10-fold, and make them better than before it went downhill. : :)

      Can’t wait to see what He shows you :) :)

  • I absolutely love this! Many days I feel like my walk with God is strained, distant, and/or distracted. Quiet times with Him are so important for me because with my busy lifestyle, it seems like I’m “too busy” to sit and talk. Each and every day is a struggle to maintain that fire and burning passion for the Lord and all His glorious wonders. The beautiful thing about that though? He loves us so much that no matter where we are in our daily walks, He’ll never forsake us. I love that!
    Your puppy is so cute!

    • Thank you Kelly, it’s sometimes a relief knowing that you’re not the only one who struggles with this. Sometimes can feel so guilty and condemned by it because I’m in a leadership role.

      You’re so right, and it’s so true what you said, “no matter what He’ll never forsake us”. I also love that Jesus said that “it is finished” such a great reminder that there’s nothing more we can do when He has fulfilled and paid everything. :)

      (I adore my pup – I’m so glad that God has given her the “personality” she has – she guards me when I sleep, listens 9/10 times, and will forgo sleeping on the couch and choose the floor just so she can be near me)

  • Philip Pratt

    This is an honest post… at one time I could absolutely relate to it, now? ‘Not so much… after being saved for 40+ years & catching a mind-blowing, life-altering revelation of grace in the last 4, I’ve learned to not only rest in Christ & His completed work but also learned to simply “relax”.

    I don’t get the whole “hungry & thirsty for God” thing; when Jesus said those who come to Him will never hunger or thirst again He meant it, yet I see many Christians embracing the “hungry/thirsty/desperate for You” mindset when they could just be enjoying His presence.

    Of course you’re not going to feel the same as you did when you were a new Believer, just as a fire in the natural blazes then settles down & burns; it’s a parallel to our spiritual lives. The most heat from the fire comes from the embers & the most heat from your relationship w/ the Lord comes after the initial blazing.

    If you compare newlyweds to those who’ve been married for 40-50 years, you’ll still see the heat of passion in both, it’s just that one is in the blazing stage & the other is in the ember stage. There’s still intimacy, they’re still growing in the knowledge of each other & occasionally stirring the embers but they’re also relaxing & enjoying each other’s presence in the heat, comfort & security of that maturing love. Is this making sense?

    Some mornings/moments of devotions & quiet time are deep & other times they seem shallow, but I encourage you to just simply enjoy being complete in Him.

  • Thank you Philip for such thoughtful comments!

    I appreciate your thoughts and experiences of Christ in your years. As someone who doesn’t always desire Christ, and really noticing my dissatisfied state, yes, I can see how resting or “relaxing” in the knowledge and truth of who God is and what He is has done can stir one’s affections.

    I quite agree that one does not always “feel” the fire of our passion for Christ, but then again, our faith is not grounded in feelings, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter how long you’ve been in relationship with Christ, it’s always important, no matter in what relationship, to do that continue to stir a love for one another, and foremost to stir a love and affection towards Jesus.

    It sounds like for you, just “relaxing” in the knowledge of who He is stirs an affection for Him as much as walking barefoot is for me :)

  • Thank you Philip for such thoughtful comments.

    I appreciate your thoughts and experiences of Christ in your years. As someone who doesn’t always desire Christ, and really noticing my dissatisfied state, yes, I can see how resting or “relaxing” in the knowledge and truth of who God is and what He is has done can stir one’s affections.

    I quite agree that one does not always “feel” the fire of our passion for Christ, but then again, our faith is not grounded in feelings, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter how long you’ve been in relationship with Christ, it’s always important, no matter in what relationship, to do that continue to stir a love for one another, and foremost to stir a love and affection towards Jesus.

    It sounds like for you, just “relaxing” in the knowledge of who He is stirs an affection for Him as much as walking barefoot is for me :)

  • Lorraine, you have posted a wonderful reflection again. You are not alone in this struggle. I have been feeling the ugliness of our sinful nature. However, God led me to Romans 7:7-25 to show me the struggle raging within Christians; our inner being devoted to Christ versus the sinful nature. We are new creations but how hard to continue to hold this believe as we are reminded of our sinful nature when we don’t desire to spend time with God, read his word, and get caught up in the number of facebook likes. Yes, I have this problem too; seeking recognition. I wish I could cut the old self, sinful nature, out of my flesh but that is not reality. Your posts are very beautiful because of how open and honest you are about your journey toward heaven. To God be all the glory.

    • Thank you John, and for stopping by. I appreciate the honesty in your thoughts.

      Am learning this week that instead of passively waiting for God to do something, that I ought to fight for joy, and fight to love God with all my heart, strength, mind and soul. Also learning that in my failure, God is glorified in His grace toward me :)

  • Phillip, you bring up a very good point when Jesus meant we would thirst no more. I have been struggling to rest in God; allow his joy, love, and peace wash over me. I don’t desire to struggle and fight against blessings but my past will not let go without a fight. Sometimes it seems the embers have gone out all together. Not a very great place to be as I feel like a horrible Christian. Makes me wonder why I struggle so much. If Jesus came to give Christian’s rest, how come I don’t seem to find much rest in God?

    My state of mind needs a shift because the past brought with it abuse, rejection, abandonment, and despair. Only recently have I experienced moments of God’s love, mercy, and grace but they are fleeting. God’s peace is a wonderful gift. All is finished and I have nothing to prove. I have been trying to go, take risks, and live the life Jesus came to give. A hard struggle but a struggle worth pursuing. Thanks for your insights. May we all rest in our Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Amazing! I’m teaching about this theme tomorrow in a teen night. Great ideas!

    • That’s awesome, I’d love to know how that goes!! :) :)