Thursday, March 3, 2022

Engaging the Disciplines

So we're back to where we started, and where we left off - with the question: how, then, do we work the spiritual disciplines into our lives? 

And the answer to that question is actually simple: that's the wrong question. 

This is where so many of us are failing, and where we create so many problems for ourselves. We take our lives as we currently have them, look at our schedules, look at our commitments, and then we try to figure out where, exactly, we can "squeeze" in one more thing - a spiritual discipline. Where do we have time to read the Bible? Where do we have time to go for a walk? When on earth is there time to take a nap? And Sabbath? Forget it. 

Our lives are just busy enough as they are. We are booked from the rising of the sun to the setting of it. Our schedules are full. There is not room, for most of us to fit one more thing in, even one more thing that we really want to do, something that we would say is super-important. 

Did you know that most adult Americans put off going to the doctor because they say they don't have time? They put off routine maintenance on their car because who has an hour to sit in a service center? I know individuals who have refused to call technicians to fix failing appliances because they just don't have the time to sit around the house and wait on someone to show up to help them. And the same is true for the spiritual disciplines - most Christians keep putting them off because they just don't have the time. 

So here's what you do: make the time. 

That's right - make the time. Not by carving out a chunk of your free time from your schedule or by trying to multi-task by reading the Bible while you're at your kid's Christmas pageant or even necessarily by getting up earlier or going to bed later, cutting into your sleep, your rest, which is a spiritual discipline in and of itself. 

You make time for the spiritual disciplines by making them your priority. You make them the first thing on your calendar, not the last thing. And make them non-negotiable. 

That means that if you decide you're going to read your Bible in the morning, then your kids need to know that if they get up while you're reading the Bible, they will have to wait on breakfast. Teach them to read their Bible, too! Or to grab a poptart or whatever. If you want to have a Sabbath, pencil it in...actually, ink it in. Tell everyone who needs to know that you will not be available. You don't have to tell them why, although you could if you wanted to. I have found that most persons are very receptive to this and will respect your time. If you want to worship, set all the preset buttons in the car to Christian stations - make it a rule. You only listen to Christian music in the car. 

There are all kinds of ways to structure your life around the spiritual disciplines, and the truth is that if you want to engage in them, you're going to have to. 

And the weird thing is that when you do it this way, you find that you have MORE time, not less. It doesn't overcrowd your calendar. It might feel that way for awhile when it's new, but you'll find yourself settling into it and it becomes just part of what you do, and it doesn't take long before it doesn't feel like a time crunch or a luxury, but a regular part of your day. And a necessity. 

And it should. Because it is. 

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