The Feelings of the Spiritual Life (Kelly Edmiston)

By Kelly Edmiston, @kellyedmiston Student minister at First Colony Church of Christ.

I’m just not feelin’ it any longer,” she said to me, from across the table where we sat facing each other in the coffee shop. With our lattes between us, I could see the steam from the hot cups billow up and disappear as it met the cool crisp morning air. She went on, “It used to feel so real and so powerful when I prayed. I used to love worshipping God. Back in the day I felt hungry to know the scriptures but now…” she trailed off, searching for the right words, “Now I just don’t feel God and I wonder if, I don’t know, this whole God-thing was just a phase for me.”

In over a decade of Student Ministry I have had far too many conversations like this one. Like the steam from our lattes, former students and friends tell of a lingering and then lost love for God years after their conversion experience. They share of a dissipated desire to grow in relationship with God. It is as if the cool crisp morning air of college exams, work deadlines or the demands of young children all but extinguish the passionate fire they once knew as young Christians.

This has caused me to ponder the spiritual life and what it means to live it. What influence should our feelings have in our spiritual lives?

What does it mean to live a spiritual life?

This question could be, and has been, answered a thousand different ways. In this post, I intend to consult a fiction work by C.S. Lewis, the Screwtape Letters, to lead us to consider spirituality in a new way.[1]

C.S.Lewis was a great theologian and author. He was deeply concerned with what it means to live a spiritual and Christo-centric life. The Screwtape Letters is a fiction book in which Screwtape, a senior demon, writes 31 letters to his nephew Wormwood, a younger and less experienced demon, who has been charged with guiding a recently converted Christian away from God toward “Our Father Below,” the Devil.

Consider these words from the senior demon, Screwtape,

“He (God) will set them (Christians) off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. But he will never allow this state of affairs to last long. Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs-to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best.”

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