I have always admired what I call, “deep water people.”
What I mean by this expression is a person whose journey through life taken them through some difficult years, but seems stronger as a result. Often it seems human suffering has a way of plunging a person into the deep end of the pool with God. If a person is ready and willing, somehow God transforms them into people of profound faith and great substance. I don’t believe there is a pill, shortcut or synthetic substitute to deep transformation; but pain often proceeds our greatest seasons of growth and maturity.
Somehow, I believe the phrase “deep calls unto deep” (Psalm 42:7) seems to express the idea of our Creator-Redeemer’s ability to address the deep and mysterious places in our lives. It seems as though our loving God looks for opportunities to move us beyond our superficial existence by transforming the interior places of our lives and bringing a sense of calm to the chaos. But make no mistake, in order for Him to make sense of our deep places, we must actively choose to plumb those depths and let Him in. It is this reason I believe our upcoming teaching series called, Discipline and Grace is an important topic for us to consider. This eight-week series will focus on various spiritual disciplines we have often heard about, but may not be very familiar with.
Spiritual disciplines are personal practices that help us be attentive to deeper life issues. They can also help us develop better awareness of God’s activity in and around us as we strengthen our “spiritual muscles” through the regular exercising of our faith. In this way, we can become people better prepared for going to deeper places with the Lord. This is a personal practice (exercising the fundamentals of our faith) and is essentially opening ourselves to listen and obey the promptings of the Spirit so that we can know Him and walk with Him through any painful or difficult season.
And so, as we look at spiritual disciplines, here’s a question to consider? Is your spiritual growth dependent on personal discipline (personal effort) or does is rest on solely on God’s grace (unmerited gift)? I think the tension between these two ends of the spectrum is well expressed by the following excerpt from Richard Foster’ book Celebration of Discipline…
“Picture a narrow ledge with a sheer drop off on either side. The chasm to the right is the way of moral bankruptcy through human striving for righteousness. The chasm to the left is the way of moral bankruptcy through the absence of human striving. On the ledge is the path represented by the disciplines of the spiritual life. The path is drought with severe difficulties, but also incredible joys. The path does not produce the change or transformation, but puts us on the path where change can occur. This is the path of disciplined grace.”
As we take time to explore the benefits of practicing the spiritual disciplines, may we also look out for the unexpected gifts of grace that will free us, grow us and help us to live more fully as “deep water” disciples of Christ.
Headin’ to the high dive!
Here is a list of the spiritual disciplines we will look at in the series over the next few weeks:
1. The Discipline of Solitude and Rest - The personal practice of learning to be alone and at peace with God, while being held in tension by the sovereign gift of God’s constant abiding and rejuvenating presence.
2. The Discipline of Prayer and Contemplation - The personal practice of listening and considering God’s involvement, while being held in tension by the sovereign gift of God’s guidance and instruction for life.
3. The Discipline of Fellowship and Community - The personal practice of being needed and being needy, while being held in tension by the sovereign gift that you are both a distinct, yet interdependent contributor in the Body of Christ.
4. The Discipline of Giving and Serving - The personal practice of active and undeserved generosity, while being held in tension by the sovereign gift of God’s abundant mercy and grace shown through the cross.
5. The Discipline of Simplicity and Sacrifice - The personal practice of de-cluttering life and detaching from lesser things, while being held in tension by the sovereign gift of God’s provision and invitation to Kingdom living.
6. The Discipline of Knowledge and Understanding - The personal practice of seeking God’s truth and being a constant learner, while being held in tension by the sovereign gift of God’s timely discernment and precise wisdom when you need it most.
7. The Discipline of Worship and Praise - The personal practice of expressing honor, devotion and exaltation to God while being held in tension by the sovereign gift of God being the Creator, redeemer and patient pursuing Heavenly Father who expresses perfect love toward his wayward-prone kids.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT
24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.
“The beginning point of any discipline is delight” -Graham Cooke
“We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners all or life”- Thomas Merton
“The beginning point of any discipline is delight” - Graham Cooke