Thursday, October 26, 2017

Introducing: An Uninvited Discipline

Spirituality is a messy business.  Historically, the "spiritual" disiciplines have been compacted into a list of activities sometimes accessibly only by people living in a convent or monastery.  Try finding silence or solitude when you are mother of young children; try to meditate any where but the drive home from work (and please don't close your eyes).  

I am not saying silence, solitude, meditation and other ancient practices are not worthy pursuits.  In fact, to find spaces for those and other such practices can prepare the way for others, but I think the wrong things can happen when we confine our spiritual discipline to places that the whole of our lives cannot enter.  Such confined practices can leave us to feel less connected to God when maybe He is crying out to us in alternative ways, in the corners of our lives that are noisier and cluttered.   Or maybe we end up compartmentalizing spiritual growth into spaces which we can control, because to allow our whole selves, our whole lives in on spiritual growth would require vulnerability or real sacrifice.

It is crucial to see the significance of our entire life as spiritual.  Because most of our lives are noisy and busy, we often cannot see the the spirituality of it.  Because we are distracted and self-centered, we don't want to bear the burden of discipline in certain areas.

So, I introduce to you the Uninvited Disciplines:  Grace, Suffering, Comfort, Discernment, Repentance and Forgiveness, Relationships and Aging.  We may not want to own our part of the discipline (Grace - isn't it all God?), or see the struggle inside the gift (Comfort) or want to suffer at all, even for the cause of God.   These disciplines will only stand as examples of others we are also avoiding, but the model will stand.

Here is the perspective I want to take each time we face an uninvited discipline:  that at the center or heart of any discipline, we would look for God, seek God, desire God - no matter the outcome for us.  I believe our greatest failure in our usual spiritual pursuits is that we are at the center of any discipline we encounter.  Even as we look for answers, comfort, or correction, we are still at the center.  Thus, we are looking for our agenda to be satisfied, trying to command the discipline to meet our needs.  Sometimes that keeps us from the discomfort of the discipline God actually wants.  Sometimes that tact keeps us from God.

I challenge you to look into each discipline - either the ones I mention or any you are avoiding - and seek to see God, be with God and join with God in it.  Then you can move out with God in any change, if it comes.  Be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as they went into the firey furnance:  they expected to be saved, yet held to their faith even if they were not.

 "If you throw us into the blazing furnace, then the God we serve is able to rescue us from it and release us from your power...but even if He does not, you can be sure we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue you erected."  Daniel 3:16-18

Spirituality is a messy business.

1 comment:

Kirsten said...

So beneficial especially as you explained the perspective of how we still are bent towards keeping ourselves as the center even in our spiritual walk, forgetting that even John the Baptist one of the greatest men to ever live said "He must increase but I must decrease." When it becomes all about Jesus and Christ is our center, only then is it win/win.