I recently finished an excellent 26 week class on the spiritual disciplines. We used Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney as our textbook, which I would highly recommend. We learned about Bible intake, Scripture memory, prayer, journaling, fasting, worship, serving, stewardship, silence & solitude, evangelism, discipleship, learning and perseverance. In most cases, we spent at least one week learning about the discipline and then another week practicing it. I would say that for the most part, I stepped out of my comfort zone, did my homework and learned a lot.
However, if I’m being completely honest with myself, my practice of the spiritual disciplines has not really improved all that much and I’ve been wrestling with why that is. My answer may shock you. Are you ready? I don’t love God enough. Yes, you read that right. It’s true. If I really loved Him, I would want to spend time with Him. I would long to spend time with Him. Instead, I am unfaithful. I spend plenty of time watching TV and playing on Facebook and reading books, but I am not spending time with my God. And I wonder why I’m struggling with practicing the spiritual disciplines? I have the knowledge. I know what the spiritual disciplines are and how to practice them. I just don’t do it.
Ironically, the one thing I need in order to cultivate a greater love for God is…to practice the spiritual disciplines! It is through Bible intake that I get to know my God better. It is through prayer that I communicate with Him. It’s through worship that I learn to take my focus off myself and put it on God where it belongs. The disciplines are a little like dating. The more I spend time on them, the more I fall in love with my Savior. And the more I love my Savior, the more I want to practice the spiritual disciplines!
It’s a dance. When you dance with a partner, you generally dance in a circle and one step leads into another. I take God’s hand and He leads me into a gentle waltz or maybe a lively two-step. Sometimes, it’s a tempestuous tango. I dance, but fight Him all the way. I fight Him because I’m too lazy or too distracted by other partners. Sometimes I just dance alone. I even think I look fantastic doing it…only to realize that while I’m showing off, Jesus is quietly standing there in the middle of the floor patiently waiting for me to come back to Him.
So, what should I do? I can continue showing off only to find myself exhausted; I can choose to sit at the table, stubbornly refusing to dance (which will probably only prove that I was never the right partner for Jesus in the first place); I can choose to dance a tango and fight him all the way (gee, that sounds like fun); or I can take His offered hand and let Him lead and see where He takes me. Hmm…it’s not that hard to see which one of those is the best choice, is it?
It comes down to this: when my desire to grow in Christ becomes greater than my desire to be entertained, I will grow in my walk with Him and our dance will be beautiful and freeing. Until then, I may be entertained, but I will also find myself exhausted, empty, weighed down and alone when the music ends. Freedom sounds a whole lot better than that.
Do you hear the Savior calling, “May I have this dance?”
Copyright ©2012 by Cherry Lyn Hoffner. You may not reproduce this post in any form without permission. However, linking to this post is encouraged.