John Ortberg’s stated goal of The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People is to help us grow spiritually. Yet it is important to realize that “spiritual life” is not just one more compartmentalized aspect of our existence. “Spiritual life” refers to every moment and facet of our life from God’s perspective. Since we will not always be as we are now, our life story is, in part, a story of transformation. As we are transformed, we find ourselves wanting to do what Jesus would do.
In order to truly conform to Christ, we need to focus on the heart or center of spiritual life- growing in love for God and people- rather than superficial distinctions (boundary markers). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we grow through training in specific spiritual disciplines, not by trying as hard as humanly possible utilizing sheer willpower. Joy is one of those spiritual disciplines. Our capacity for joy increases when we can celebrate the simplest gifts of God. Periodic and extended periods of solitude spiritually discipline us to slow down and heal our hurry sickness. The author notes that hurry is a sign of a disordered heart and diminishes our capacity to love. To follow Jesus, we can’t go faster than the One who is leading.
Prayer is important for sustaining spiritual life, but will be effective only if we believe that prayer indeed changes things. In addition, we need to be listening for and have a continuing awareness of God’s presence as we “seek first the kingdom”, taking every thought captive as we move closer to conformity to Christ. It is essential for us to consider what it really means to live “in the name of Jesus” in all aspects of our life.
Through faith in Jesus we are enabled to remain tenaciously obedient to the end, in steadfast hope that God will deliver us. Press on!
Note: Thanksgiving Short Meditation will post on Wednesday- “Simple Gifts”.