Monday, March 6, 2017
The Invitation to Observe a Holy Lent is an invitation to practice spiritual disciplines. It would seem that the disciplines of the Christian life would be an easier thing for us. We understand that the primary benefit to each one of us is a stronger connection to God. A strong connection is a life giving connection in that it helps us to focus our life on the will of God for our life, it opens our inner life to a greater sense of wonder and mystery, and through the practice of disciplines we find that our life is more centered on what is important and less distracted by the things that cause us to be out of step with what God is seeking to do in our life. Life is immeasurably enhanced and made better through our involvement in spiritual disciplines.
But, the truth is, we struggle. Knowing what is good for us is never a guarantee that we are going to do it. Too many times we see the practice of spiritual disciplines as our duty. We think about them as something we ought to do, should do, but do not do as we should so they end up becoming a source of frustration, failure, and guilt for us. It is no wonder we find ourselves coming to a place of "non-practice." They seem to bring more negatives to the table than positives. After a time our life of "non-practice" becomes the norm and we learn to live with the negative feelings without thinking about them or being bothered by them. Since everyone struggles with spiritual disciplines, it is ok for us to struggle with them, too.
These legalistic boundaries we place around the practice of spiritual disciplines create all sorts of hindrances for us as we seek to renew our commitment to these ancient disciplines. Having to pray a certain amount of time in a certain way, or having to read a certain amount of Scripture sets us up to fail. Remember this. At the core of spiritual disciplines is the practice of the Presence. Forget the legalistic boundaries and simply allow a moment for being in the Presence of God. Be free not to do anything and free to do everything.