In my first entry, I shared from where this commitment began. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook is a book I’ve had for at least 6 years. It was a book my then lifegroup choose to go through. Our group decided to choose our favorite and most appealing of the 63 disciplines listed in the book, write them down, put them in a box, and draw one at random to decide the discipline we’d learn that week on our own, then come back and discuss it. But as I’ve sat here in my outpost for 4 days reading, rereading, and then underlining the nine pages of its Introduction – that is not how this book was intended to be used.
The author, Adele, holds your hand and speaks thoroughly on the different ways one could arrive in picking a… singular… ONE discipline to start with. She affirms your reason for picking up the book is prob because you want to find and “keep company with Jesus” whether for the first time or in a new way. She helps you choose the best discipline, considering: how you learn, your current longing, and your stage & season of life.
The 63 disciplines are grouped into 7 themes or ways we can grow our relationship with God, and has them simply listed in the acronym ‘WORSHIP’.
- Worship the Trinity
- Open yourself to God
- Relinquish the false self and idols of your heart
- Share your life
- Hear God’s Word
- Incarnate the love of Christ
- Pray your life
The Spiritual Growth Planner located in Appendix 1 or more simply put, test, leads you through each theme of WORSHIP scoring how true or untrue each statement is to you right now. Answering a couple questions per theme, then noting which statement resonates most as a current ‘desire’ of yours. If you’re honest, the theme that aligns with your heart should be very obvious: it’ll have a low score, it’ll have vulnerable answers to the questions, and a few tick marks along marking your ‘desires’. Just to be sure it’s clear she provides a space for you the chart your scores, and list out your desires.
My scores documenting my spiritual needs as of 2/8/17
- Hear God’s Word – 6, desires: nourishment, His Word to have life
- Pray my life – 8, desires: hear God, selflessness, authenticity
- Worship the Trinity – 8, desires: reverence, celebration
- Open to God – 12, desires: intention, vulnerable, listen, admit
- Relinquish the false self and idols of the heart – 12, desire: admit to pride
- Incarnate the love of Christ – 16, desires: have a heart for the weak and hurting, use gifts
- Share my life – 20, desire: accountability
I hope to take the test again and score differently, showing growth I’ve made with my intentional practices. (As I’m writing this I realize this book is a Type-A’s dream book. ha!)
Side note: if you go through the test and still feel unclear, try taking a look at the Seasons, Stages, and Ages of Transformation in appendix 10. I don’t recommend doing this unless you want further clarification on which discipline you should begin with. I read through this section after already feeling clear on starting with the theme “Hear God’s Word” but it confused me since it leads you through picking disciplines NOT based on theme, rather based on your “season, stage, or age” in life. Which for some is more what they need, for me the whole section was a detour.
So now that you have your theme picked, you have to choose a discipline within the theme to start with.
- Theme: an area you want to grow in your relationship with God; WORSHIP.
- Discipline: a spiritual practice you do to fulfill your longing/desires.
She recommends you turn to the pages of disciplines within your theme and scan through the charts prior to each section. Quickly read the overarching “desire” listed at the top of the chart, and the “fruits” that can come from practicing this discipline listed at the bottom of the chart. I took a pencil to the charts and circled everything that resonated with me, and it was very obvious which discipline is for me.
This was a VERY technical post on how I settled on a spiritual discipline to practice. And it may seem forced, or inauthentic. But I didn’t arrive to this desperate place of my spiritual journey because of the overflowing feeling of my heart! I got here because the years of nothingness has brought me to a place where I just know this is what I have to do, I need to obey, and do! “Do” has become a taboo word for our generation, we don’t DO anything we don’t feel like doing. Well, not only is it biblical to obey, it’s crucial to our growth to push beyond what we naturally feel comfortable doing.
I do believe the Spirit has guided me in this whole process: of choosing to pick up this book that sat disregarded in a box for 6 years, committing to a year and journal the experience, and to dive deep into doing what God asks of me because I revere Him. And I can’t discount that God is using my traumatic miscarriage to graciously and lovingly draw me closer to Him right now. Even though I don’t hear or feel Him, I know He is guiding me.