“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23–24

Exhausted. Dry. Tired. Disillusioned. Anxious. Stressed. Frustrated. Burned out.

One, or a few, of these words might describe what you are feeling in life right now. If so, it is important to give yourself permission to ask one big question; why?

Henri Nouwen once said, “The main obstacle to love for God is service for God.” It is possible to be working and going so hard for God that we forget what it means to be connected to God. It’s important for us to pause from our constant motion to reflect and examine the condition of our soul.

When we discover things in our lives that are out of rhythm with God, our natural tendency is to go “outward and upward” with our response. We go out by confessing our sins, and then offer it up to God, Himself, to forgive, heal, and restore. Instead, it might be time to go “inward and downward.” In to examine what we truly feel in our hearts, and down to discover the roots of where these feelings originate. It’s only then that we can bring our true and full self before God and present what it is that we need restoration in. But, for most of us, this seems a bit scary.

Even though self-evaluation and contemplation are important, fear of what we may find can keep us from doing it. We’d much rather convince ourselves that we have it all together because this feels like the safer option. But it keeps us from identifying the areas in our lives that need healing, reinforcement, or affirmation. GK Chesterton wrote, “If you leave a thing alone, you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution.” Looking inward and asking hard questions can lead to clarity about our condition.

A mistake at this point would be assuming that taking this approach can only be explained as a wavering faith in Christ. We seem to think that an internal audit of our spiritual condition is only attributed to angst and disbelief in God. This doesn’t have to be the case! Reflecting and re-evaluating can bring encouragement and clarity, which produces rest. A healthy time of prayer and reflection should reinforce the direction and vision the Lord has granted us. Psalm 139 reminds us that taking the time to invite God to reveal to us our inner reality, leads us to receive clarity of the next right steps in our lives. It’s good for us to know where we are so we can understand where we need restoration.

What does it look like for you to go “in” and “down” in this season? What do you hope is the outcome?

Excerpt from Finding Soul Rest: 40 Days of Connecting with Christ: A Devotional

Author of Soul Rest: Reclaim Your Life. Return to Sabbath., Curtis advocates intentional self-care through Sabbath practice.

Curtis Zackery (CZ), a sought-after speaker and author, pastors at Church of the City, Franklin, TN, a rapidly growing multi-campus church. His contagious gospel passion defies barriers of age, ethnicity, and religion. CZ offers a raw, relevant gospel perspective through teaching, speaking, and writing. With 15 years of diverse ministry, including church planting, pastoring, and addressing themes like rest and the gospel’s beauty, he brings unique insights. CZ holds degrees from Liberty University and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Prior to pastoral duties at Church of the City, he directed programs at Kids Across America.