Thursday, February 19, 2009

Manly Devotions, part 2

At one point a while ago, I posted a poorly written piece with the same title. I say poorly written because it was hard to tell where I was going.

The post was alot of "Devotions are pointless and not very helpful" which meant "Isn't it just as good to do something else, instead?"

Well, I was misinterpreted, and rightfully so since I rushed through the post.

I think it was interpreted as "Spiritual disciplines are a waste of time," which I don't believe, and hope no one would...

At worst, I sometimes feel like devotionals are part of a way to make money. I get my podcasts for free.

To further complicate the message, I was relaying a message from someone else, not from myself.

I should have said something along the lines of "Devotion books that focus on predigested pieces of "spiritual thoughts" one a day are not very helpful for some people. Other ways of exercising spiritual disciplines are more helpful."

Secondary questions were "Do I have to do it every day at the same time? Do I have to do it in the morning? What if my schedule changes, can I change the time?"

The message I was hearing from the friend was along the lines of: "What if I keep reading these "devotions books" and they just make me feel like "this is something I must do", but I get alot more edification, satisfaction and am more motivated from those other media? Why are those "devotions books" so feminine, or they talk to me about generalities of which I have no interest?"

I wasn't really talking about myself, but I could sympathize with from whom it came.

Not long ago an old teacher of mine said this in his blog.

This morning as I sat, before the family or even the sun rose, with my Bible, my prayer journal, a good book to stretch me, I realized- part of my calm right now is simply a result of having cultivated through the discipline of meeting with God on a daily basis, a trust in Him that actually makes in difference when it comes to dealing with the crap life throws at you.

And I had a eureka moment. I almost jumped up, looking for who I could tell this *new* old important morsel to.

I guess the parting thought here is no 1+1=2 with God. There is no prescription or 12 steps to God, at least not in the bible (correct me if I am wrong, gentle readers).

In a piece by Donald Miller he references Mercutio mocking Romeo for "Loving by Numbers" and talks about America's love for 3 steps to this, or 5 keys to that (though Mercutio was referring to the iambic pentameter that Romeo used to communicate to his beloved). Included in this is our relationship with the Lord. Donald Miller suggests, and I have to say that I agree, that there is no such thing in the bible guaranteeing "closeness with God" or "spirit-filled living" if one does this, that and the other thing. If anyone says so, they are selling something.

Where am I going with this?

Point is that no one has "the key" to how to pursue God, only suggestions of what has worked for others. Sometimes, for me anyway, what works is to just keep trying.

I found it profound that Mother Teresa spent her last twenty or more years desperately seeking the presence of God in her life. She simply suffered because she didn't "feel" Him near, as she had in the past. And there is so much talk about the "spirit filled life" (I get frustrated by this jargon) and yet...

Some might say that you can love God by numbers or by a formula, but something I learned from another teacher is that no one can referee between you and God. For example, I can't admonish my daughter effectively to read her bible daily, I can only live by example and pray. And therein lies the truth, that it all boils down to a relationship between the person and God, between which stands no person. Just as it was at the beginning and will be at the end.

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