Monday, April 23, 2012

The Dance

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.

Monday, April 9, 2012

It’s All About the Timing

After a month of blogging, I have learned that it requires at least two things: good ideas and timing. For the last two weeks, my timing has been really off, which is why I have not posted. I had several great ideas for Easter related posts, but in most cases, I didn't finish writing them in time. It doesn't make much sense to post something about Good Friday on Easter Sunday. I see now why another blogger suggested having several blog posts already written before I started blogging to keep a flow going. She was really talking about timing. Fail.

Timing is a funny thing. Sometimes it’s great and leads to a chance meeting. I think back to how Dave (my husband) and I met at Timber-lee Camp in East Troy, Wisconsin. So many things went into the timing of that: when I became a Christian; not getting a graduate assistantship and needing to take a summer job; staying on at the camp in the fall and working with Dave on the weekends. Had any one of those things changed, we might not be married. Of course, I could also count the fact that I didn’t die from some mysterious virus when I was five months old, or that I wasn’t seriously injured or killed when I almost fell off a roof while volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in high school.

I may not have become interested in writing if Mrs. Czechvala hadn’t given me an A+ in 6th grade on a limerick I wrote about a frog crossing the street.

I may not have become the owner of a very affectionate orange cat if my friend Leslie’s cats had been nice to her in the brief time she owned her.

I may not have become a Christian yet if I had gotten the prestigious job I wanted on campus between my junior and senior years of college. Instead, I got a job that actually paid more and I worked with a lot of Christians – and one of them led me to the Lord.

Of course, timing has a dark side too. Why did my grandmother have a stroke when I was 16? Why did my husband lose his job and remain unemployed for several months a little over a year ago? If my sister-in-law hadn’t been a lifeguard at one time, would she still have gotten the melanoma that killed her?

Timing is what makes things funny or sad at a particular moment – comedians and dramatic actors know that well. Sometimes we affect timing and sometimes others or circumstances affect timing. In the end, it all seems to work out, though, doesn’t it? I believe that’s because God is sovereign, meaning that He is in control of all things. Nothing happens without a reason. I can look back on many events in my life and see now why they happened the way they did. Some I’m grateful for; some, not so much. But it’s a comfort to me to know that things don’t randomly happen. So I guess, if I look at it that way, I’m always right on time.

How is your timing? How have different events in your life shaped you? Have some of the bad things turned out to have a good purpose at some point?

Copyright ©2012 by Cherry Lyn Hoffner. You may not reproduce this post in any form without permission. However, linking to this post is encouraged.