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Monday, October 26, 2009

The Difference a Day Makes

I was reading a little Dietrich Bonhoeffer this morning- and by the way, who doesn't love a theologian and teacher that does all of his writing under the shadow of a Nazi government and ends up dying in a concentration camp for participating in a scheme to assassinate Hitler? You know his writing will have some real zing to it- how could it not? Anyway, I digress...

In his small book,Meditating on the Word, Bonhoeffer makes this statement, "The present day marks the boundary of our cares and concerns. It is long enough to find God or to lose him, to keep faith or fall into disgrace." In this chapter, Bonhoeffer is calling out for Christ-followers to see the daily need to meet God in prayer and in the Word. He advocates a kind of discipline that we might call "legalism"- meditating on Scripture each day, whether we feel like it or not, as an "obligatory service to the One who desires our prayers and praises."

There's something about me that wants to run from this idea. I want to believe that my relationship with God can be more free than that- more natural and more spontaneous. Yet I know the truth of Bonhoeffer's words. A single day where I have ignored the presence and person of God in my life is more than enough to get myself off track. I am amazed at how quickly my thoughts can turn from positive to negative, my soul goes from faith to fear, and my focus blurs from sharp to hazy. While I want to believe that I can get to know God when I feel like it and on my terms, I am learning that there is too much laziness, too much distraction in me, for this to build a deep connection with God.

So, I am coming to a reality of devotion- I must bring myself before God each and every day, or else face an uphill battle to recover what is lost. One day is more than enough to lose sight of what matters most. Thankfully, one day is also enough to start fresh and fix my eyes on Him.

May you seek Him in this day as you journey on-

Nick

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Swing Low

Have you ever noticed that when you get sick physically, it affects you in so many more ways than just your physical body? Being sick always reminds me how "connected" we are to ourselves. We tend to break life up into segments- physical, emotional, spiritual, etc, but all of the pieces of who we are overlap and work together to create the great whole.

So, when I'm sick, I don't just hurt physically. I suffer mentally. (Granted, most people believe that I suffer mentally on a regular basis.) I also suffer spiritually. For whatever reason, a sick body typically leads me to a sick soul, where I feel very weak about who I am.

Since this is a blog primarily about spiritual things, I thought I'd share a few of the ideas I have about staying strong in a time of suffering spiritually. Maybe some of these will be helpful to you if you find yourself in a time of "soul sickness." Here's a few things I do, to varying degrees of success:

1)Recite one-sentence prayers. I don't know about you, but I really struggle to pray when I'm sick. I tend to have less compassion for others when I feel this way, but I also feel that a mental fog makes it tough to concentrate. I find the ancient "Jesus Prayer" to be useful- Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner. Repeating this over and over keeps my heart open to God.

2)Remembering Scripture. I Corinthians 10:13, Hebrews 12:1-3, and Ephesians 4:8 are helpful to me in times of feeling low.

3)Don't Get Dramatic. When I'm sick, I can feel like the world is closing in and nothing is worthwhile. I have to remind myself that this is no time to make major life decisions, or to think that those major decision are even on the line. Sometimes, I have to just take a deep breath and say, "this too shall pass". It doesn't sound very spiritual, but it helps remind me that healthier days, physically and spiritually, will come.

How about you? What do you do when you start to feel a spiritual low? We've all been there- share your thoughts!

May you stay encouraged on your journey today,

Nick