Wednesday, January 26, 2011

spiritual formation

Sometimes we read words that ring with clear truth in our hearts. A truth we feel we have always known. And, we are delighted someone put it to words.

“We are largely governed by a materialistic/humanistic worldview that perceives everything "out there" as something to be grasped, controlled, and manipulated for our own purposes or, even worse, for the purposes of God! This perspective is so deeply ingrained, as we shall see, that we determine our own self-image, our meaning, our value, our purpose by the effectiveness of our grasp, control, and manipulation of the world, of other persons, even of God.”

“Genuine spiritual formation, being conformed, is the great reversal of the negative spiritual formation of our culture. It reverses our role from being the subject who controls the objects of the world, to being the object of the loving purposes of God who seeks to "control" us for our perfect wholeness. Genuine spiri¬tual formation reverses our role as the controllers (who act to bring about the desired results in our lives) to beings who allow the spirit of God to act in our lives to bring about God's purposes.”

“. . . a fundamental shift from being our own production to being God's creation.”

[excerpted from Shaped By The Word, Mulholland]

Christian Spiritual Formation: the process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Running from God

For many years, after my first wife left me, I “ran” from my pain and rejection. According to my psychiatrist, the obsessive running and training may have actually treated my clinical depression and anxiety. Many of us are running to or from something in our lives. We pursue meaning to our existence through a variety of activities and passions. However, it seems none of us ever truly finds contentment, never discovering the “secret to happiness” that fulfills our heart and soul.

I spent several years working, eating, sleeping and training . . . period. Any social contact I had was either at work or while training for triathlons and ultra running events. Literally, every waking hour during that time was consumed with running, swimming and cycling . . . if I wasn’t doing it, I was thinking it. I don’t know if I ever stopped to wonder what it would be like without all the physical activity. Or, if I might ever want to be in a relationship with someone again?

Then, Patti (my current wife) slowly came into my life. She was a delightful distraction from all the training, and the beginning of a different life. Little did I know how different that life would be in the years ahead. There are many subplots to this story, but my intent here is to illustrate a common “dead end” path we all seem to take at times in our lives. Pursuing hedonistic pleasures always leads to dead ends. People may seem like they are happy, but ultimately their lives come to ruin, OR, change dramatically in an opposite direction.

Mine was a slow change, happening gradually over the years until I look back now, some 30 years later, and realize how dramatic the change looks from this perspective. My life is much simpler these days, though still very full. My athletic pursuits consist of long walks with my grandson, and I can honestly say I don’t miss the long runs, rides and swims. My time now is full of a deep sense of JOY, contentment and even worldly happiness . . . but it is not satisfied by hedonistic pleasures or material things. It is “full” of . . . words escape it, definition or description is hard to express . . . full of . . . God, the Great Mystery, the Father I’ve discovered who is full of Grace (unmerited), love and mercy.

I suppose if I could pass along any wisdom from this journey, it would be to seek God right where you are. His Presence and JOY are they to be found no matter where you are, or what you are doing. And all those other things you are pursuing; fame, fortune, hedonistic pleasures, material things, whatever you are currently “worshiping” . . . well, take stock of it all, and I think you will decide to give it all up to find your true life, who you were created to be, and to find the One who created you and loves you beyond words. If this sounds eerily similar to something you may have heard before . . . well, this is the life of following Jesus, the life of a disciple of the God Man.

“He has shown you o man what is good and what the LORD desires of you. To do justly, to love mercy to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21
Only by Grace, patrick

Thursday, January 6, 2011

darkness . . .

"Thou my best thought by day or by night. Waking or sleeping, Thy Presence my light." The night can be a time that makes us uneasy. And yet, darkness is the covering of God; it is where He lives. He is light in the darkness. [excerpt from Celtic Daily Prayer]