I WANT TO THRIVE AND NOT JUST SURVIVE

  • AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Growth

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    Have you ever had that period in your life where you felt drained, empty, and utterly spent?  I have felt that way many times in my life, even in seminary.

    I, like most Christians, will simply drudge along or quit my habits for a bit, taking a break from it all.  So the question that has plagued me for sometime was, how can someone who maintains a routine in a life of busy-ness, still stay vibrant in their relationship with God?  After all, there has to be something more than just getting by with life and “mailing it in.”  To quote a Switchfoot song, I want to thrive and not just survive!

    This question was posed to me again while reading through books for my Spiritual Traditions class.  The books looked over the lives of many giants of the faith from the initial generations and onwards, providing solid glimpses into their habits.  The thing that stuck out to me was that their routines and rhythms worked.  They thrived in their lives through a rhythm of life centered around Christ.  It made me further conclude that we are creatures of habit, and cultivating a flow of prayer and Scripture reading will help the individual grow in depth.

    These monks and nuns lived a life of incredible intimacy, and the theme that I have picked up in their lives is that they lived disciplined in their world.  They lived according to certain guidelines, praying at regularly assigned times, and spending purposeful time in study, solitude, and silence.  Their routine of faith opened up opportunity to be flexible in their spiritual lives.

    Of course, most people cannot become monks and nuns.  Most people have jobs, family commitments, lives, and other responsibilities which keep them from the life of a modern day monk (which are as important, in God’s eyes, as a life dedicated to vocational ministry at a church/monastery) .  Our hesitancy of any sort of religiosity (read: stereotypical “Pharisee religion”) in contemporary Evangelicalism is what holds many back, including me at times.  However, being spontaneous all the time can be draining.  Borrowing from Paul, I would suggest that the training our spiritual bodies like an athlete opens up new avenues of intimacy and depth with God.  With joy and the inner-working of God’s gracious Spirit, any person can indeed cultivate a more full life.  God can be a part of the busy life we lead when we are intentional with our time. So I would like to encourage you this week to schedule time of devoted prayer, setting your alarm clock fifteen minutes earlier or kneeling next to your bed for a few minutes.  Invite God along your busy life, you won’t be disappointed.

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  • Jesse

    Great insight Jeremy! I’m in a Spiritual formation class right now, and we’re being challenged to follow different disciplines each week, and this is exactly some of the stuff we’re talking about!

    Also you made a great point about spontaneity and how it can really tire a person out. I’ve had experiences where I’ve been pushed to exhaustion in terms of doing stuff just because another event or ‘thing to do’ would come up. And for me that’s rough because I like everything planned out and researched well in advance. Although at the same time, I have now found myself wrestling with finding a balance between spontaneity and planning in my life. I’m finding that sometimes I miss out on certain joys because I am too set in my ways.

    But anyways that’s kind of besides the point, and I do think that daily routines(which I think need to be open to spontaneity sometimes) and disciplines (something we do, not always out of joy or for an immediate result) do really help, and are an immensely important part of the Christian life.

    So yeah, great insight Jeremy, and like I said I am excited as to where this class will take me in terms of trying out new spiritual disciplines and working them into a daily routine.

    • Flexibility is a good thing, Francis of Assisi operated like that. It’s interesting to read about Paul in Acts and his letters how often he alludes to his flexibility in his life. He saw that it was good to visit this city, or stay longer in another place. When he was forced out of certain towns, he changed his plans and went elsewhere. Often times, he just used common sense (with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, of course). 🙂

      I do think we need to make time for God, especially when I hear so often from myself and others that “I’m too busy for _____” or “My day was packed so I didn’t have time to do ______.” We can be intentional and steal time for God. We make time for the things we enjoy and I believe that can be translated into our devotional life.

      I am excited to hear about how the spiritual formation class will go for you.