Spiritual Life DevelopmentWholly Living

Keep Showing Up

October is a magical time of year with Major League  Baseball’s (MLB) playoffs and World Series.

It’s also a time when we remember great players and pennant races from the past. Cal Ripken Jr., nicknamed “The Iron Man,” is a former shortstop and third baseman who played 21 seasons in MLB for the Baltimore Orioles (1981–2001). Ripken compiled 3,184 hits, 431 home runs, and 1,695 runs–batted–in during his career, and he won two Gold Glove Awards for his defense. He was a 19–time All–Star and was twice named American League Most Valuable Player.

All those statistics are noteworthy, but one arguably surpasses them all—Ripken holds the record for consecutive games played, 2,632. In other words, Cal Ripken showed up. This is more than just a tiny blip on his statistical sheet; it is a sign of commitment.

Commitment

Commitment is a word often used, but the depth of its meaning is rarely understood in today’s society. A commitment is a pledge, a promise, a vow, and a guarantee that we will complete what we say we’ll complete. Many commitments seem to start out in a blaze of passion, but when the newness wears off, when life gets in the way or when having to show up gets tedious or uncomfortable, the commitment fades and we return to the status quo.

We see broken commitments in divorce rates, in the lives of children who experience a lack of parental guidance, and in today’s workforce as we jump from job to job. This lack of commitment has even infiltrated the health and service of the Church.

As this is a new day and age, some of us might believe that worship and service in the Body of Christ might look a little different than from a few decades ago. But this notion is far from the truth when it comes to spiritual formation. There are classic rhythms in our spiritual walk that are foundational to the health and growth of our life in Christ. 

I recently came across this statement from the 2nd Vatican Council: “And let us remember that prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that God and man may talk together; for we speak to Him when we pray; we hear from Him when we read Divine sayings.” As the old Sunday school chorus goes, “Read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow.”

At this point, you may be thinking, Thanks, Einstein. Tell me something I don’t know. Rather than give you a new revelation, it is an important reminder for you to keep showing up for your Bible reading and prayer life. Show up when the daily schedule is crowded, show up when these practices may seem rote, show up when there seems to be no dividends in sight. Perhaps Paul tried to make this point to Christians in Galatia when he wrote, “May we never tire of doing what is good and right before our Lord because in His season we shall bring in a great harvest if we can just persist.” Galatians 6:9 (VOICE)

E. Stanley Jones, a missionary to the Muslims and Hindus in India during the first half of the 20th century, put it this way, “Conversion is a gift and an achievement. It is the act of a moment and the work of a lifetime. You cannot attain salvation by disciplines—it is a gift of God. But you cannot retain it without disciplines. Discipline is the fruit of conversion—not the root.”

You may have had an experience when you’ve gotten up from your quiet time with the Lord and thought, What did I just read? or I feel like my prayers are hitting the ceiling. Be aware of the source of these thoughts. This is exactly what our spiritual adversary wants us to dwell on. The reading of God’s Word or time spent in talking to Him or just sitting in His presence is never in vain.  If you expose your all to His everything, He promises to renew your mind (Romans 12:2). Remember, God works in ways we cannot see! Your time in His presence will reveal His Word at the moment you need it.

Perhaps you feel your journey with Christ has gone flat.  If so, then admit it to Him. He already knows where you are with Him. Admission is the first step toward a new revelation in Him.

Let’s face it, we live in a time when you can find almost any resource that will give direction to spur your spiritual life. The issue is, when you feel you haven’t heard God speaking in a long time, when it seems everyone else is growing in leaps and bounds, and when you feel spiritually stuck, don’t stop opening God’s Word or speaking to Him, or sitting in His presence. The bottom line is, God is always speaking to you; the discipline of prayer and reading of Scripture, in whatever way you feel led to experience them, will help you get in alignment to hear His voice. Keep showing up and God will honor your effort with a harvest!

by Major Lauren Hodgson

Here are some practical suggestions to give you a jumpstart in the rhythms of prayer and Bible reading:
  • Read the Word of God daily. Establish a consistent time, place, and pattern. Make it a high priority.
  • Retain knowledge and spiritual revelation by sharing the lessons God has taught you. Put what you’ve learned into your own words. This is important for your comprehension, retention, and for people with whom you share God’s word.
  • Review this biblical checklist often. “Do your best to improve your faith. You can do this by adding goodness, understanding, self–control, patience, devotion to God, concern for others, and love2 Peter 1:5–7 (CEV). Go over these seven virtues often, noting on a regular basis if you see an increase or decrease in these areas in your life. Conduct a daily review of how you incorporate what you are learning. (Check out The Prayer of Examen on the Spiritual Life Development section of saconnects.org)
  • If you feel your prayer life is in a rut, try praying the Scriptures.

 

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