2018 Resolution: Closing the Spiritual Gap

This afternoon I finished reading my final book for 2017, The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan. I shared a thought from his book a few days ago regarding a sabbath type exercise, which he offers many of in this book. Here’s one from chapter 10 that seems fitting for New Year’s Eve:

A good Sabbath exercise is to take stock. It is to sit and reckon where you are spiritually and calculate the gap between that and where you want to be – or, at least, where you know you ought to want to be. Do you want more grace, or trust, or peace? Do you want a greater sense of God’s presence and goodness? Do you want to live by Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 4:29, to “not let any unwholesome talk proceed out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”?

What if our resolutions for the new year were spiritual in nature? 

What if our first priority was about our souls, our spirits? 

What if a year from now we could say, “Thank God my spiritual gap isn’t as big as it was“?

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Life Balance Exercise: How’s Your Awe?

I just finished reading Awe by Paul David Tripp, second time, first 2017 reading. If you’ve yet to read it, I encourage you to bump it up your list.

Here’s an example why. Chapter 13 is entitled “Work.” The challenge is to consider how your awe of God compares to your awe of work. 

Could it be that you’re asking work to do for you what it cannot do?

God is too wise and loving ever to call you to one area of responsibility that will necessitate you being irresponsible in another.

The drawing above illustrates Tripp’s challenge. These domains are what we have been given in life, our calling. Keeping them in balance, owning our responsibility is vital.

To check your life balance, here are three questions and suggestions regarding your awe:

  1. In each individual domain, rate your awe of God in that domain using a scale of 1-10.
  2. Considering the three domains together where the ideal would be a balance of thirds (33.33% each), what percentage would you give each of them today? (Consider drawing your own graph as a visual)
  3. What can you address in these domains to achieve better balance and responsibility and to deepen your awe of God?

But I Don’t Want To

One reality to living alone-if you don’t do the chores, ain’t nobody else going to either. As a task-oriented guy, not usually a big deal.

But then there’s these two things: mopping and dusting. What is it with these two? Does anyone else dislike them as much as I do? I won’t tell you my lack of getting them done in order to protect my reputation of being neat and tidy.

I’ve noticed something else. There are also some spiritual disciplines that I have the same problem with. Just like house chores, some spiritual disciplines are just more enjoyable, easier, or natural. Yet, when I make myself do the less enjoyable ones, just like when I dust or mop, I’m glad I did. Like the reflection of mopped tile, my soul feels cleaner and more reflective of God.

So how do we tackle these “but I don’t want to” chores and disciplines? It doesn’t seem to work to wait until the mood strikes or to just suck it up and grudgingly put them on the to do list, on which they seem to easily get bumped down. I’m not sure what would work for you, but I can tell you what happened today to cause me to dust. I decided I wanted to see clean, to see a reflection more than anything else. It comes down to choice, to wanting better, to having the end in mind, to not settling for easy. My want has to change.

The example I can draw from in a different area of my life is running. Right now, I’m back to running 20+ miles a week-haven’t been there in almost 4 years. I’m doing that to build a foundation that will prepare me to train for the longest race in my life next year. I want to run this race. I don’t always want to get up in the dark and run. I don’t always want to endure the summer humidity. But when I remember the end in mind, I get up and hit the road. And I’m glad I did when I finish.

What’s your end game? What do you need to decide you want in order to do what you don’t want to do? Nail it down. You’ll be glad you did.