Bible Verse: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:1-22
It’s easy to forget God – especially if we’re busy and enjoy accomplishing things. We grow used to living from task to task, craving the dopamine hit that comes from the next big thing.
We forget that there is an alternative to this way of life. Spiritual exercises attune us to God’s presence, acting as sticky-note reminders that God is with us all the time. They don’t lift us high into God’s atmosphere, like jet propulsion helps launch a plane thirty thousand feet above the ground. We’re already in God’s presence. Rather, the practices tune us into the invisible waves of God’s loving presence in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). The exercises don’t offer merely a fleeting high. They foster the deeper joy of a steady, solid relationship of love.
But what does this actually look like in the day-to-day of our busy lives? I want to introduce you briefly to some of the spiritual habits that are especially relevant for those of us who tend to define ourselves by what we do.
Silent Meditation Although God is with us all the time, so often we are unaware of his presence. A simple rhythm of morning meditation or pausing at brief moments in the day to attend to God nurtures our awareness of his love for us, even when we are not consciously praying.
Sabbath Keeping I tend to define myself by what I do and how well I do it. But over time and by God’s grace, I have learned to break this pattern of making what I do the central part of my identity. And one of the most powerful ways to do this might surprise you. It’s by honouring the Sabbath. When we cease working on our Sabbath, we live out the truth that our worth is not based on how much we accomplish or contribute to the world but on the simple glorious fact that we are a cherished child of God.
Gratitude Taking time each day to notice and give thanks for specific things helps us to become conscious of the good in our lives. In the evening, I will regularly pause, look back over the day, and list at least three things for which I am thankful. When I associate these gifts with God’s goodness, I become more conscious of God’s great love for me.
Servanthood When we serve others, we are reminded that we do not exist for our own personal glory or fulfillment but for the honour of God and benefit of others. When we serve, we also discover that our most important calling is almost always lived out in the ordinary tasks of everyday life.
We must remember that spiritual practices may feel challenging at first but often eventually prove life-giving. As is true with any endeavour, discerning whether a spiritual practice is going to be sustainable and fruitful will take trial and error along with perseverance.
— Ken Shigematsu in Survival Guide for the Soul: How to Flourish Spiritually in a World that Pressures Us to Achieve. Copyright © 2018 by Ken Shigematsu
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