COCHRANE, Alberta, Canada (BP)–Connie Cavanaugh just pretended all was well.
She taught Sunday School, played keyboard in the church’s worship team and hosted home Bible studies. But, even as a conference speaker and author, she avoided situations in which she might be asked, “What’s God doing in your life?”
She didn’t want to lie, but she says the truth, over the course of a decade, would have been, “Nothing.”
In “From Faking It to Finding Grace: Discovering God Again When Your Faith Runs Dry,” Cavanaugh recounts her experiences with dry faith to help other Christians who have been in a spiritual desert, not knowing how they got there or how to find a way out.
Cavanaugh, who uses her maiden name professionally, is the wife of Gerry Taillon, executive director of the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists.
“Basically I went through the motions,” Cavanaugh lamented. “When someone got saved, I acted happy. When someone sinned, I acted sad. But I wasn’t happy or sad. I was numb.”
Cavanaugh dealt with the numbness the only way she figured she could: by faking her Christian fervor.
Cavanaugh said her book grew out of a growing number of conferences she led in the United States and Canada in which she began to recount her journey out of a spiritual desert.
“The crux of the book is the message of grace,” Cavanaugh said. “God is actively pursuing us even when we see no evidence of Him in our lives.”
Few people could have been more surprised than she over her struggle with dry faith, Cavanaugh said. She had a “Damascus Road” salvation experience in college and was baptized by Henry Blackaby in 1974. She married Taillon, then a pastor, and led many to faith in Christ.
Years later, amid the hopelessness of being in the wilderness, Cavanaugh’s wakeup call came when she realized how un-Christian she had been toward a neighbor whose dog made ongoing use of her front yard.
“We need a wakeup call to see clearly how far we’ve drifted,” Cavanaugh said. “But there is no quick fix. There’s no ‘Jesus’ pill that will solve the wilderness experience.”
The road out of a spiritual desert is built one “Yes, Lord” brick at a time, Cavanaugh said.
As Blackaby, author of “Experiencing God,” had told her: “If you haven’t heard from God for awhile, think back to the last thing He said. What did God ask you to do then? Have you done it?”
Cavanaugh’s book, released by Harvest House Publishers, explores wilderness experiences — and the journey out -– not just through her own journey, but also the journeys of others she has encountered.
Pain often propels people toward dry faith, said Cavanaugh, who, in recent years, has been a featured columnist in HomeLife magazine, published by LifeWay Christian Resources, and a regular contributor to On Mission magazine, published by the North American Mission Board.
“Life’s pain makes you afraid,” she said. “Because God’s not protecting you from the hard stuff of life, you think, ‘I can do better on my own.’ You begin walking by your own decisions, not by faith.
“Recovery includes choosing to trust God again, saying ‘Yes,’ even though you are afraid. That’s where you learn what mature faith is.”
Taillon, Cavanaugh’s husband of 27 years, said he is proud of his wife’s courage.
“I think there are many Christians going through these struggles,” he said. “The key for us is to be honest about it. What I love about Connie’s book is that it’s about God -– not about finding our way back to God, but about God pursuing us.”
From Faking It to Finding Grace is available at Christian bookstores. Connie Cavanaugh’s website is www.conniecavanaugh.com.