Stories, thoughts and reflections on the Bible from the WSFC Staff.
It can be a struggle, I know that. There can be days of faith and fortitude, I get that too.
Sometimes it feels like one step forward and two steps back, so why even bother anymore? Sometimes it seems like nothing is working and we wonder, is God even listening? Other times there are moments of awareness of rhythm and hope in God so we keep pressing on and in. There are days of focus and quiet that draw us into His peace and presence and other days, it’s pure chaos.
I am talking about the spiritual life, and it isn’t always easy. It is a lifetime of practicing and learning. Just as one would practice a sport or an instrument to grow and develop at it, so we practice the spiritual life. It’s humbling to know it doesn’t always come naturally. Thankfully, the grace and love of God guides us along the way.
We talk a lot about spiritual practices like prayer, studying the word, solitude, and sabbath but is it really changing us? We talk a lot about transformation and change, but it doesn’t happen just by wishing for it. It takes the power and presence of the Holy Spirit mixed with good ol’ fashioned organization and planning.
The danger of discussing a shape or structure for the spiritual life is that what works for me might not work for you. We are different people, in different places in life and have different experiences. We don’t want to become overly-focused on any one method or give too much credit to any one style that fits all when there are so many opportunities to entering a creative life with God.
At the same time, we can see a benefit to a daily spiritual rhythm. The interesting thing is that we fit many habits and rhythms into our ordinary lives, for the benefit of our health. We give focused and consistent attention to things like exercise, grooming, nutrition and sleep. We teach our young people these habits as they are vital to their health. So, we know we can do it. The question is: can we think of our spiritual habits and rhythms as just as vital?
Here are some ways that may help you evaluate and ask some broader questions about your spiritual life. There are things to draw your attention to in order for newness, effectiveness and spiritual depth and growth. Remember, we’re not looking for quick fixes or easy steps to becoming mature, we will be transforming until the day we see Jesus in the face, however, there are tools that can guide change and that can bring about the blessing of God in our lives.
1. Evaluate Your Season Of Life: Evaluating or knowing your season of life can lead to particular practices that help to listen, ask and receive from God. What do you need in this season of life? It’s often the asking and longing, that can draw and pull us into a deeper spiritual life and experience of God’s love.
2. Be Self Aware: Be honest with yourself. What daily patterns do you see in your life? Are you a morning person? Making space for focused time with God may work better in the early hours versus trying to fit it in before bed. Work with the natural rhythms of your life and personality to find what works for you and be honest about your weaknesses and areas in need of change.
3. Notice Which Environments Lead You To A Deeper Awareness of God’s Presence: What are the environments that help you feel close to God? Examples could be nature, solitude, art, work (the ordinary life), sacred spaces like personal retreats, worship, studying the word, community, sunsets, etc. Pay attention and visit those places as often as you can.
4. Show Up to Community: Who are the people who support and encourage you in your spiritual life? Who do you pray and meet with on a regular basis that you can be real with? Who do you encourage? Who do you learn from? Immerse yourself in the giving and receiving of ministry with other people. Challenge yourself to make commitments to be in community and show up. Showing up is half the battle!
5. Make Time For Reflection: Reflection continually lifts our hearts and minds to God. It’s a natural way we can engage with God. How often do we live inattentive to the things that God is doing in our daily life? Where in your life have you noticed a closeness to God or a distance from Him? Let God speak to those places, reflection helps us get there. Make a daily, weekly, or monthly practice of reflection in your life. Even 10 minutes of reflection can help you set a habit of focusing your heart and mind on God.
6. Write It Down: Jot it down. Draw it out. Say it out loud. Make it a habit to document the ways God is moving in your life. Write it down so that when you are in a dark time or experiencing pain or hopelessness, you can go back and see God’s faithfulness in our life. It’s a rhythm of hope that keeps on giving!
There’s a pattern of intentionality in all of these things, and in it we can find a rhythm that can wake us up to new things and a vibrant, functional life in Christ. As plain as it may sound, we get to decide if we accept the invitation to do this. Let’s encourage each other in this new year to let go of any negative thoughts about the spiritual life, that we can’t do it or that we’re lazy, it’s too overwhelming or we’re too busy. And, by all means, let’s encourage each other to let go of the guilt. Try a new spiritual practice and see what happens because in, under, over and through our journey we have the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to guide and support us.
-Pastor Kristin Chaney
If you are feeling stuck, or want to talk more about this topic, we would love to meet with you. It is our desire to walk alongside you in your spiritual journey in order to nurture a deeper awareness of the presence of God in everyday life. Spiritual Direction is a series of intentional conversations where we focus on personal relationship with God and where the Holy Spirit is at work to form us to become more like Jesus. If you want to set up a time to meet, CLICK HERE.