I woke up with a new sense of responsibility this morning – you know, the sense you have on January 2nd when you’ve vowed before God and mankind to go to the gym more, or to reform your eating habits, or to travel to all 50 states, or even to clean your house more than once a year…The sense that there is hope of a new day – a new chance for change – a bright future ahead!
And all the while, a small part of you realizes that the optimism will sooner or later fade and you’ll face the choice of trudging along in your vow, chalking it up as a lost cause, or persevering triumphantly(!) to meet your goal.
I think I’m going to approach this task as a discipline rather than as a goal. In the midst of the daily chaos and pressures of life, it’s not going to be easy to carve out time to stand still and add a post. Yet, I think, it will be worth it.
A few short years ago I attended a series of studies focused on Richard M. Foster’s book, Celebration of Disciplines.* In it, Foster has discerned and described 12 spiritual disciplines: the “inward disciplines” of the Christian life (prayer, fasting, meditation, and study), the “outward disciplines” that are visible to others (simplicity, solitude, submission, and service), and the “corporate disciplines” that are exercised with others (confession, worship, guidance, and celebration).
I am not going to go into exhaustive detail about all of these disciplines at the moment, but I mention them because days like today I am reminded of how much time, energy, and work it is to cultivate a discipline-filled life – spiritually as well as practically.
Foster’s book (which you can find online, as it’s come out in several editions) centers on helping people cultivate depth – of their spiritual life, and of their understanding of God. I struggled to incorporate those disciplines into my life when I first read the book many years ago as an idealistic college student for Pastor Wally’s Intro to Ministry class (Caramel Macchiatos come to mind!). I struggled again during that series of studies. The disciplines make sense. They cultivate spiritual life and Divine understanding organically. They aren’t as abstract or as difficult to practice as you may imagine. But practicing them as a discipline – as a practice of instruction that molds, shapes, corrects, or focuses – is HARD.
And yes, I was tempted to use my whiney-voice just now.
The purpose of this space is to be a place where I can engage and wrestle with various thoughts and topics, to share the depths I have discovered so that others may be blessed. I don’t want this to become an occasional hobby, but it’s going to take effort to cultivate that depth while seeking to share it. That’s going to require intentionality, forethought, and accountability – as well as giving of my time, energy, and effort.
Yes. It’s worth it.
______________________________________________________________*As much as I would like to provide all of the bibliographical information about the Celebration of Disciplines, I am writing this from memory and do not have it all handy. It has come out in several editions over the years, and possibly through more than one publisher; if you do a search for it, you should be able to find it pretty easily!