Desire and Discipline

As I was re-reading my post from yesterday, I realized I probably need to clarify a few things. The goal of this series is not necessarily to help you get more into your day. (I am working on this topic though, so stay tuned!) The goal is to help you get more of God into your day. In John 10:10, Jesus tells us that as our good Shepherd, His desire is to give us life, abundant life. This life is not found in material possessions, praise from your superiors or approval from people, for all these needs are taken care of in Him. Not only are they taken care of, they are taken care of fully, abundantly and deeply. In Him, we are fully satisfied, whether we realize and live like it or not.

This doesn't mean that we will have worldly riches untold or get that raise and promotion that we have been hoping for or that we will be the center of the party. Those are all external blessings, which are wonderful, if the Lord gives them to you. But what I think Jesus is offering us is deep, eternal contentment, a sense that God is truly good to me, that He is for me, regardless of whether my life is "working" like I want it to or not.

For the truth is, in Christ, I am deeply loved as His child (Eph. 2:4, 1 John 3:18). I have a Father who will take care of my needs when I seek Him first (Matthew 6:33). My greatest significance comes not through my achievements, my personality, or my status, but my standing in Christ alone.

I sensed that the Lord is having me write these posts just as much for myself as for anyone else out there. These posts are not just going to be about how to "do" the Christian life, but to experience it, by tapping in to that deepest desire in us, the longing for God, and letting that be our fuel and our energy through the days of our lives.

The connection between this desire and this daily experience comes, perhaps surprisingly, from the practice of disciplines. Yes, spiritual disciplines, like reading the Word, prayer and worship, but also practicing the presence of God, controlling the tongue, and keeping the Sabbath. It includes learning to invest in accountability relationships, fasting, and ministry. It can also come in the form of extended solitude retreats, memorizing Scripture, and soaking our mind in good books. And it can also come in the form of slowing down, unplugging, and confession.

In short, in order to tap into the life we truly long for with God, we need to put ourselves in a place where that life can come to the surface. And that is exactly what spiritual disciplines are all about. It is about making space in our lives so that the Spirit of God can reign and rule, not the hurry and bustle of the basketball schedule, the monotony of the homework routine, or the urgency of dinner. When we learn to practice spiritual disciplines, not as another item to check off on our lists, but as a way of life, we then can begin to see God's hand take us through our days with the peace that surpasses understanding that we all long for.

Do you see why this is as much for me as it is for you? I need this just as much as you do. As human beings, we were made to find our contentment and joy in God alone. I am far too "prone to wander from the Lord I love." The glitter of achievement, approval and accolades is an irresistible draw for me. In my desire for these things, I push and shoulder my way into them by my own strength instead of moving into them in His timing.

Unless I am able to take that desire in my heart and submit it to the Lord, it can lead me into a life that relentlessly drives me, like a gerbil in a wheel. But unless I take intentional steps and seek to develop a pattern of living, sacred rhythms, I will be stuck in that cage, far from the life that Jesus promised to give.

This life He offers is not fettered by the things of this life. On the contrary, it sets us free, even though the limitations of age, failure, trouble, and my humanity seek to constrain me and tie me down to this earth. I don't know about you, but I want this life, His life. Like the woman at the well in John 4, I want this living water.

If this describes you, I hope you'll continue to join me in this journey as we explore how these spiritual disciplines can be incorporated into our lives to form a pattern for our days that draws us ever closer to the life that He longs to give us.

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