by Nik Harrang
“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”– A. Maslow
For me as a young Christian, it seemed to be common knowledge that if you wanted to experience a deeper walk with God, it was pretty obvious what you needed to do: Read your Bible and Pray more! And, of course, you should attend church, show up at special meetings, and ideally serve somewhere.
If I was struggling with a problem, the answer for many years was some version of “try harder,” and I would redouble my efforts at the fundamentals of the faith.
Now, truth be told, there is a lot of help, stability, and strength to be found in a life that is anchored in these basics of the faith. There really is no substitute for feeding on God’s Word (Jesus did describe it as our ‘daily bread’ after all). And a consistent prayer life is a cure for a thousand ills.
Service, fellowship, worship, and the other biblical practices are indeed essential for a healthy relationship with God. Trying to live the Christian life without these in place is a bit like trying to raft a Class IV river without a paddle: It can be done, but I wouldn’t recommend it!
But what do you do when all of these things are in place and you still struggle? What can be done when we feel stuck, stalled, or dissatisfied in our walk with God?
This is where the holistic model of Deeper Walk was such an ‘aha’ moment for me.
My boss, Marcus Warner, has a knack for simplifying complex things.
Several years ago, Marcus came up with the FISH Model as a paradigm for understanding four essential elements for a deeper walk with God.* These four essentials can be remembered like this:
- Freedom – experiencing greater freedom from things that keep us in bondage
- Identity in Christ – both my ‘covenant’ identity and living from the unique heart Jesus gave me
- Spirit – learning how to walk in the Spirit and how to think scripturally
- Heart-Focused Community – growing with others who are on the journey together
FISH should lead to Mission (or ‘Go Fish’) where we are partnering with Jesus and fellow believers to share the Good News and help others grow in Freedom, Identity, Spirit, and Heart-Focused Community.
While the FISH model doesn’t explain everything about the Christian life, it does provide a simple, holistic model that any Christian, Small Group, or Church family can use to examine what may be missing in their current walk with God.
Here is a set of questions that could be helpful in diagnosing what may be missing in your walk with God:
- Freedom – Am I living in bondage to bad habits, unhealed wounds, or lies about myself or God? If so, freedom ministry can be an incredible help here. ‘REAL Prayer’ to bring healing to wounds and spiritual warfare ministry to deal with demonic influence can make a night and day difference in a person’s life!
- Identity – Am I truly living from a place of victory in Christ? Is my sense of identity grounded in my being a son or daughter of God, righteous in His eyes, holy and dearly loved? And am I growing in my relational skills and personal maturity to where I more and more ‘act like myself’ no matter what difficult circumstances I find myself in?
- Spirit – Am I learning to abide in Christ more functionally throughout the day? Is ‘listening prayer’ becoming more a part of my rhythm of life? Am I experiencing God’s Word as daily bread that I sense is nourishing my soul?
- Heart-Focused Community – Am I cultivating relationships and rhythms in my life where I am interfacing with other like-minded believers on a regular basis?
- Mission – Am I aware of the opportunities God is placing before me to be His witness in both word and deed to help others find and follow Jesus Christ?
Life is a journey. For perfectionists like me, I tend to want to find all the areas where I am falling short and work hard to shore them up as quickly as possible.
Yet this is not how God works. We are all works in progress. And as the Good Shepherd, He wants to lead us one step at a time into a progressively deeper walk with Himself.
So the next time you feel like you are stuck, or that something is missing in your walk with God, why not take a moment to use the FISH model and ask God what your next step is to go deeper. I suggest you try something like this:
- Find a quiet place. Set aside 15-30 minutes to be alone with God.
- Spend time in a joyful memory. For the first few minutes, think about a joyful memory – a special time when you felt joyful, peaceful, and connected to God and/or someone you love.
- Share gratitude with God. After a few minutes spent enjoying that memory, write down a prayer of gratitude to God.
- Inquire of the Lord: “Lord, how are you inviting me to go deeper in my walk with You at this time?”
- Wait on the Lord. You may wish to write the thoughts that come to mind from God’s perspective.** Or God may use an image or other means to impress upon your heart what He wants you to know.
- Test it. Does what you sensed line up with God’s Word, God’s character (cf. the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22-23), and bring God’s peace (cf. Col. 3:15)?
- Share with a friend. Sharing with others what God has shown us builds community, brings encouragement, and is a safeguard.
I’ll be honest. I have no idea what may be missing in your walk with God at this time (if anything). But I do know that the answer to a deeper walk is definitely not “try harder.”
Rather than trying harder to do the right thing to grow closer to God, why not ask Him how He is at work in your life and how He is inviting you to grow closer to Him? The answer may be found in the FISH model or in something else He shows you.
Either way, the Good Shepherd promises to lead us as we seek Him.
So why not pull out your calendar now and set a 30 minute “date with God” to inquire how you can go deeper? You may just discover a missing piece to experiencing a deeper walk!
* The FISH Model is explained in depth in A Deeper Walk: A Proven Path For Developing a More Vibrant Faith by Marcus Warner.
** To learn more about listening prayer, see Joyful Journey: Listening to Immanuel by Jim Wilder, et al., or check out the “Listening Prayer Online Conference” available in our Learning Library-Premium.