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Spiritual Discipline

August 6, 2009

When we begin to ask  what the conditions of spiritual renewal are, we receive essentially the same answers from nearly all of those we have most reason to respect.  One major answer is the emphasis on discipline.  In the conduct of one’s own life it is soon obvious, as many as have learned the hard way, that empty freedom is a snare and a delusion.  In following what comes naturally or easily, life simply ends in confusion, and in consequent disaster.  Without the discipline of time, we spoil the next day the night before, and without the discipline of prayer, we are likely to end by having practically no experience of the divine-human encounter.  However compassionate we may be with others, we dare not be soft or indulgent with ourselves.  Excellence comes at a price, and one of the major prices is that of inner control.

We have not advanced very far in our spiritual lives if we have not encountered the basic paradox of freedom, to the effect that we are the most free when we are bound.  But not just any way of being bound will suffice; what matters is the character of our binding.  The one who would like to be an athlete, but who is unwilling to discipline his [or her] body by regular exercise and by abstinence, is not free to excel on the field or track…failure to train rigorously and to live abstemiously denies [that person] the freedom to go over the bar at the desired height, or to run with the desired speed or endurance.  With one concerted voice, the giants of the devotional life apply the same principle to the whole of life with the dictum:  Discipline is the price of freedom.

-From The New Man for Our Time by Elton Trueblood

Just a quote that I read this morning that I wanted to share with anyone who comes across this blog.  In contemporary theology, the primary metaphor for our interaction with God seems to be the relational metaphor, be it marriage, father, friend, or brother.  While I think that is great, to over look other metaphors such as the athlete in training or the soldier in war time, is to miss the urgency and diligence that the biblical writers wrote with concerning our spiritual growth.

Keep it in balance.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2009 11:12

    Easy to say but hard to do indeed. We kinda talked about this during devotion at work this morning. A lot of times, God’s ways are slow, difficult and embarrassing. Yet, in order to live a “balanced life” (as you expressed), one has to constantly be disciplined, breaking the muscles and eating a lot of protein. 😉

    How that is another raging fight within my soul!

    But Lucado’s Facing Your Giants tells me how God comes to meet His people, “He comes when commands are revered, hearts are clean, and confession is made.”

    Thanks for sharing it, Jon. 🙂

  2. Matt Bohlman permalink
    September 7, 2009 2:14

    Good stuff. I like your words at the tail end.

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