Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (1 Cor 9:24-27).

The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful (Matt 13:22).

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe (1 Tim 4:7-10).

Mponeng is a gold mine in South Africa, and it’s one of the two deepest mines in the world. It is more than three miles deep. Traveling from the surface to the bottom takes more than an hour.

And Mponeng just gets deeper. They extract more than 5400 metric tonnes (almost 6000 tons) of rock each day. That’s a lot of earth to move!

I think all of us want to go deeper with God. It’s a pretty regular prayer for most Christians. We want a deeper relationship with God.

As we were praying over prayer requests today, someone mentioned that many people were at a place right now where they wanted to break through and go deeper in their relationship with God. And immediately God put in my head this:

What are you going to give up to go deeper?

And the image of a mine came. If you want to dig deep, you first have to get all of the dirt out of the way. It’s so obvious that we don’t even think about it.

If you want to go deeper with God, you have to give up something to make room for it. You don’t deepen a relationship without making room for it. You just can’t. It doesn’t work that way.

God gave me this message. He wants you to know he wants you to go deeper with him. He’s not what’s holding anyone back.

Often the reason we plateau in our relationship with God is not because we have some major thing holding us back. It’s very seldom that we have some major issue that keeps us from going deeper with God.

No, the truth is that by far the most common reason we plateau is because we’re distracted.

One of my mentors likes to talk about “sideways energy.” When you’re running toward a goal, you don’t throw your arms and legs out to the side as you run. Why would you? It’s a good way to waste a lot of energy without getting where you want to go. That’s sideways energy: energy spent on things that don’t move you forward.

So often that’s all the breakthrough that is needed. All you have to do is give up something that’s distracting you from God and you’ll go deeper. No real breakthrough is needed. It feels like it, but that’s because you’re trying to add a deeper relationship with God onto all that you’re already doing, and you’re just maxed out. You just don’t have any more energy to spend.

I’ve said it before, but it needs to be said again: growth doesn’t always require giving up bad things. Growth often requires giving up good things for what’s better.

And nothing is better than your relationship with Christ.

So are you in a place right now where your relationship with God has plateaued? Are you looking to find the way forward? Do you need a breakthrough to go deeper with God?

What are you willing to give up for it?

What good thing are you going to give up to make room for a deeper relationship with God?

All views expressed on this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, U.S.A., U.S. Missions, and The General Council of the Assemblies of God.

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