“Follow me as I follow Christ.”
Gutsy words. I’ve always written them off as something that Paul could say because he was, well, Paul.
As I think about other things Paul said, though, I’m less and less convinced he was speaking as a superchristian. I think he was just speaking as one actively following. I mean, he talks about not doing what he wants to do and doing what he doesn’t want to do. He counts his achievements as literal crap. He called himself “chief of sinners.”
Maybe I’m not off the hook as one to be followed. (I don’t have to look any farther than my living room to know I’m leading people, even if they’re short.)
I went down to L’Abri fellowship in Southborough, MA, not far from Boston. My stated area of study was the work of the Holy Spirit in my life as a believer because if I have “the power that raised Christ from the dead” living in me, I could really stand to access it. My theology has always been fairly reasonable, but my practice has been weak, owing to a history of viewing any interaction with the Spirit as “charismatic” and anything “charismatic” as suspect.
I did a lot of reading on that trip. It was an introvert’s dream vacation—two weeks of reading. I blew through 17 books. Much of it was on the work of the Spirit, but that led me to the traditional disciplines as well.
The disciplines are one of the ways (maybe one of the primary ways?) the Spirit works truth into my life and heart.
As I work with Him creating a routine around disciplines, it’s like He creates space in my normal life and practice to speak and act. I’ve long written them off as “dead religion” and “going through the motions.” Turns out basically all of church history got them right, though. I imagine trying to get from one place to another with woods between. You know the way and can push through the brush to get there, but sometimes it’s nice to just walk the path that everyone has already taken. Disciplines, for me, are that path, and it’s a nice relief after years of getting whacked in the face by twigs and walking into spider webs.
Here are the disciplines He’s been using in me to guide me to Himself:
This is underrated, probably because it’s uncomfortable. But sitting in silence regularly (I’m shooting for five minutes per morning) leaves space for Him to bring ideas to my mind. It’s hard. I’m bad at it. It’s easy to go off on to-do list tangents and imagined-conversation bunny trails. Sometimes I manage to quiet my mind and nothing much happens. I trust that this is also fine.
This is an old form of prayer in which I bring day before the Lord in an intentional way and we have a conversation about it. I’m not good at describing it, but my friend Jen is, and if you’re interested I highly recommend looking through her Instagram account and Etsy shop, both of which are devoted almost entirely to this practice.
Wait. Talking to God can’t possibly count if you’re using someone else’s words! Extemporaneous is the only legitimate way to pray. Right?
Nope. There are a lot of people who say a lot of things to God that are sound and insightful. I am not always either sound or insightful. I’m often tired and my prayers are often rote: “Lord, thanks for this day, thanks for our babies, help me bless Andrew, give us wisdom to raise the babies and please draw them to you, let us all sleep well thankyouamenzzzzzzzzz.” Pretty deep, huh? Turns out if my heart can wrap itself around even a small piece of a prayer someone else wrote, I’m almost always doing better. It’s not that I don’t pray on my own (there’s always constant, informal chatter happening in me toward Him), but borrowing from somebody else has improved even that.
This is not all of them, but it’s already getting pretty long and I have 31 days to fill, so I’ll come back tomorrow. I don’t know if I want to tell you to “follow me as I follow Christ,” but here are some of the ways I follow him, at any rate.
If this tugs at you, I have to recommend Celebration of Discipline (Foster) and The Spirit of the Disciplines (Willard).
This post is part of my series, 31 days of speaking the truth. You can find the whole list of them here on the first post of the series.