I heard a story about a small-town hardware store owner. Two huge national chain competitors bought the lots on either side of his store and built gigantic stores right next to his (Lowe's on one side, Home Depot on the other). So, he had to figure out how was he going to stay in business.
He thought long and hard and went out and had an incredibly large sign made that he hung above the door to his store. It had only two words on it: "Enter Here."
There's nothing like a small-town hardware store. It really contains just about everything one might need to fix things up. The basics I share below come from such a store. Before we get "creative" and start exploring unique and different ways to wake up our spiritual lives, let's make sure we have the basics in place.
At a work-related group dinner meeting I shared about this website with a colleague. I was just getting it launched. In view of the web address and subtitle, she asked me: "So, what are the top three ways to wake up your spiritual life?"
While my mind raced to many tools and techniques one may use to jump-start one's spiritual life, it struck me that there are some important fundamentals to a healthy spiritual life that, best case scenario, are critical to have in place in order to sustain spiritual life. These "top three" are not necessarily "creative" but they are fundamental.
So, since fundamentals are best built upon, I'd like to take a moment to lay out three fundamentals which I'll call:
The Bottom Three Ways to Wake Up One's Spiritual Life
Carve out some daily "milk and cookies" time with the Big Guy. No agenda, no requests, no expectations. Just "be" with Him. For the last 10 years or so, I've spent 20 minutes every (almost every) morning sitting with God. Spending time with Him. Consenting to His presence and action within. Submitting to His agenda.
My first introduction to the importance of this "fundamental" was more than 10 years ago through a book written by Jeanne Guyon around 1685 called Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ. In her book she speaks of simply spending time with Him. By no means rocket science, but what to do with all those THOUGHTS rocketing around one's head when trying to be still and quiet?
I tried unsuccessfully to practice this "being still" time until I came across Thomas Keating's Open Mind, Open Heart. First published in 1986, Keating's book details a method of prayer that enable's one to quiet down those pesky random thoughts enough to "experience the depths."
With the simple introduction of a "sacred word" which one introduces at times of distraction with the gentleness of a "feather falling on a pillow" it is possible to spend quiet time with the Lord. This will anchor your day so you may experience peace and withstand the waves that may hit you broadside. Take a moment of silence and ask Him to give you a sacred word, or choose one yourself (e,g,: peace, quiet, joy).
For more than 25 years, every (almost every) Thursday morning at 6:30am I meet my friend Barry for coffee at a local restaurant, spending meaningful, transparent time in conversation about our lives, marriages, jobs, kids, and spiritual lives. No topic is off limits or taboo.
I've found this relationship a centerpiece of my spiritual life. There is a verse that says "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." James 5:16 It's for real.
Scripture indicates that Jesus had a special relationship with John, one of His followers. After John, there were Peter and James. For those of us interested in walking as Jesus did (I John 2:6) it will especially bless you to make a special connection with another follower.
In addition to Barry on Thursday mornings, I meet with Chuck on Tuesdays, Patrick (my son) on Wednesdays, and Ken on Fridays. Connecting with these guys helps me WAKE UP my spiritual life, as we totally accept one another, encourage one another to connect to God and spur each other on to be genuine in our love for our significant others, family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and others.
3. From Lecture to Lab: remember who you are
So you're spending meaningful life-anchoring time with the Big Guy and connecting in genuine ways to other seekers consistently and deeply. Remember back in school how you had lectures followed by labs? In the lab we got to put into practice what we learned in the lecture!
The ultimate purpose of waking up our spiritual lives is not "just" so we may have an abundance of love, peace, hope and joy in own lives, but so that we may share that kind of life with others.
Imagine you are a bucket. When someone "bumps into you" during the day (that driver who cut you off, that difficult co-worker, fill-in-the-blank), what sloshes out of your bucket? Is it love, peace, hope and joy?
By making the effort to be aware of how you are doing in the lab, you will enrich your times with the Big Guy and with those to whom you are making special connections. As you intensely pursue Him, and connect with others, you will find more and more success in the lab.
A fundamental factor in successfully moving from lecture to lab is remembering who you are. The Big Guy makes it clear that if you have dedicated yourself to Him, He has transformed you into someone new. Your basic identity does not waffle back and forth from old to new. You are new.
Sometimes you may not act like it, you may forget what you learned in lecture, but by going back to Him on a regular basis, and receiving encouragement from those to whom you are connected, you will act more and more consistently with who you truly are.
If you go to this YouTube post, you will hear a message from me where I speak about drawing near to the Big Guy and "soaking" in His presence. Note: This is a sound file only.