Who Has Time For Spiritual Practice?
If you are like me, every week you start off with great expectations for your daily walk with Jesus. Then, life happens and it takes no prisoners and leaves you exhausted and wondering where the time went. As we practice this cycle again and again, week after week, we start to become frustrated with our self and our walk. We do this until we find our selves at a place where we don't have time for any spiritual practices and if we are honest, we don't care either.
We have all at times, looked into the mirror of our spiritual performance and have concluded that "I am not cutting it!" Every time that we find our selves headed in that direction, we will end up frustrated and not focusing on what is true. Spiritual practices are not meant to be just another activity that we measure our success with, they are meant to help us to "grow in grace." They are about learning to encounter the God of ALL goodness so that we can be transformed.
In the book, "Learning to Live and Love Like Jesus," Brandon cook helps to describe how we can make time to engage in spiritual practices throughout our crazy days.
"Imagine a river, wild and rushing. Its roar prevents you from hearing much of anything and its currents create huge sprays of water pouring over you. This river represents modern life, hurried and loud. The easiest thing in the world is to be swept along with its current, just trying to survive, and then to arive at river's end asking, "Where did the time go? How did it go so fast?"
Indeed, imagine that you are being swept down the river, but in front of you the current's flow is interrupted by a huge boulder. Water rushes on either side of the great rock, but a dry space, untouched by the water's stream, has been created behind it. At first you are frightened by the boulder and by what might happen if you run into it, so you swim to the side, trying to avoid it. But then you realize that the boulder might offer you somehting that the river never can, since the river never lets you rest. So you start swimming toward it. With some serious effort you are able to exit the wild rush of water and stand in the dry area. You are no longer knocked about. You can breathe easily. Miraculously, as you step into the space, the roar of the river somehow recedes. You can hear your own thoughts, connecting with the quiet in a new way.
When you enter back into the river, things are different. The current doesn't seem so strong. Maybe you've just become a better swimmer? The roar of the river still seems quieter, too. And your heart is encouraged when you see another boulder in front of you. You repeat the process, finding that when you engage hte waters again, the current seems weaker still. Now rather than being afraid of the boulders or wanting to avoid them, you are, with gladness, on the lookout for the next one."
In the story, the boulders represent spiritual practices, which are practices that create space that we can enter for the transformation of our soul; it's a space in which we encounter Jesus and are empowered to live in a new way. In these spaces we learn to walk in the grace and power that only Jesus can give, and we learn more about the goodness of God.
Now, just because we can understand this idea, doesn't mean that it will magically make all of our problems go away. The river will still be strong, the change will not happen on the outside, the change will happen in our hearts. We will learn to handle things differently, we will learn to choose a better path. The real challenge of it all, is that in the story, the boulders were already in the river, in our lives we will need to learn to place the boulders in such a way, so that we can make space to encounter Jesus.
Most of us know the reality of how busy life can get, and spiritual practices, like reading your Bible, praying, resting, listening, and fasting, are not usually the thing we make time for. They are the things that we cut out first, because who has time for spiritual practices when I have so much to get done?" But, if we are going to avoid frustration and spiritual burn out, you and I will need to learn to place the boulders in the river, and find the peace that only Jesus can offer.