Spiritual Disciplines. Let’s end this charade. Let’s give up this fight. Let’s take off these masks and get down to it. Because I am sick and tired and weary and wanting more. I am fed up with ways to meet with the Lord in just six easy steps. Opportunities to beckon Him to be with me by praying in just the right way for just the right amount of time. Attempting to get my needs met by striving through a fast. Manipulating the Almighty in the name of relationship by vowing silence.
I have had enough, and I am tired. Boy am I tired.
What I want is Jesus, not a formula. I long for God’s presence, not a remedy for my poisonous flesh. I want to know that He is here before I call on Him. I want to be aware of my Savior before I fall. I crave Him.
There are those who seem content to teach about these spiritual disciplines like they are medals of honor to be worn proudly around your neck and envied by all. My efforts, my medals, are heavy and choking me to death. My futile attempt to pull myself up by my flesh and work out my salvation is leading to my demise. I am killing myself trying to be a good Christian (whatever that means!). And for what?
What am I doing it for? Why am I exercising the spiritual disciplines? If anything not done in faith is sin, then why am I fasting and praying, vowing silence, simplicity, and memorizing scripture? Why am I working myself to death?
My flesh is sagging. Its elasticity has worn out. I have put too much weight on it. I have nothing left but to let the Lord pull me up. I am at the end of my spiritual discipline rope after jumping it for so long my feet are now bleeding.
My friends, I quit. I officially quit. I will not make another effort to make God love me. I will not strive for His presence. I refuse to create another opportunity to meet with the Lord.
I will instead try to realize the truth. I will take a lesson from The Matrix.
Boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
There is nothing that I can do to bend God toward me. There is no Jedi mind trick or wizardry that I need possess to get God to love me. That is impossible. I only have to try and realize the truth.
“Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. Yet on your fathers did the LORD set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day. So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer. For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.” Deuteronomy 10:14-18
He has set His affection on me. Yes, before the Cross even, and He does not change. I am an eternal spiritual being. God has made His dwelling inside of me. His love for me is not given partially based on my completion and repetition of spiritual disciplines. I cannot con God into loving me. I cannot pay Him off by doing anything.
Do I dare quote the whole first half of Romans 8? Alas, no. I will leave it at this:
“So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:12-13
The deeds of the body—good or bad. Why did I think living by the flesh was isolated to the big bad sins? Why did I think that doing “good things” apart from God was okay? How did I come up with the absurd idea that if it is in the bible, I am obligated to do it?
I have been living from the flesh disguised as fruit. And it is rotten!
That is not the way of the Lord.
But if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live, says the Word. And friends, I want to live. I want so desperately to live.
So on this glorious day I am getting honest about my motivations for spiritual disciplines, and I am quitting. If in my intimate love affair with the Lord He tells me to move, I will move, but for now, there is only this being with Him that can satisfy. There are no spiritual disciplines, no sacrifices, no praises I can bring to increase His love for me. There is nothing that I can do to bend God toward me. That is impossible, for His mind is made up. I only have to try and realize the truth. It is not God that bends. It is only me.
And today I am bending down face first and laboring to enter into His rest.