Warning: you are joining a conversation already in progress. To read where it started, go here and read the post for today, 2/25/08.
Is my spiritual life more about being or doing? Is it resting in the Lord or forging ahead? Is it “letting go and letting God” or “working with all my might, serving the Lord”? I wrote about struggling, and quoted Richard Foster who says, “…with the Spiritual Disciplines—they are…God’s way of getting us into the ground; they put us where he can work within us and transform us. ” I said that I needed to remember that the work is HIS, not MINE.
Where, my cyber-brother Rob asked, does that leave our efforts? Is there no work for us to do? I wasn’t trying to say “no”. Not on purpose. I think my struggle is a perennial one: in my desire to grow more Christ-like, I forget time after time that the best way to do so is to fix my eyes on Jesus, the Author and perfecter of my faith. (Hebrews 12:2). Instead of gazing intently into the Word which gives Life, I find myself mirror-gazing, navel-gazing, spinning round and round in the hamster wheel of my mind. Self-evaluation likely has a place in life, but not first place, prime place. Since autobiography tends to be fascinating subject matter for its author, it absorbs more and more time…then when I begin to feel disenchanted (again) with my spiritual progress, discouraged with recurring sin and struggle, I forget that the blame is sitting on my doorstep. I scramble around looking for smoldering fires to put out.
The spiritual disciplines’ first order of business are to keep our focus OFF ourselves and ON God. By being Christ-centered rather than self-absorbed, I give Him room to work. I cannot form Christ in myself. But I can consciously, moment by moment, meditate on His Word and converse with Him, practice self-denial and the rest of the disciplines. That’s my work. Part of my prayer life should be asking for guidance on what other work should be done, at any moment: “Here is my schedule for the day, Lord. But You can interrupt it if You have a better idea.”
As Rob rightly said, it’s a balancing act, a tightrope walk on a bridge of faith and trust. It’s so easy to fall off one side or the other, onto passivity or self-reliance. Having partners and friends on the bridge is one way we can learn to keep our balance. Thanks, Rob.