This week we are just getting used to the idea of these so called "disciplines". This concept is actually one that is somewhat novel to our modern mindset, when few of us would consider our daily habits as anything more than just that. We may or may not even think of any of these as "disciplines", or even think about a "disciplines" being anything besides a broad description of a field of study. By "we" I mean me, when I first read this book.
The notion of "disciplines" being the day-in-day-out ingrained habits of a person is a new one to me. Even more so the idea of my Christian life needing to develop spiritual disciplines, in order to achieve the kind of relationship that I know I desire to have with God. I mean I understood that I had to have godly habits to be godly, but the idea of actually have to purposefully develop habits besides just prayer and reading my Bible was a new idea. Of course those are part of the spiritual disciplines, but so is fasting, meditation, celebration, simplicity and confession, according to Foster.
These disciplines (plus a few more) are ones that help us develop more than just a "go to church" kind of relationship with God. These spiritual activities are what we do on a real life, every day basis that helps grown us closer to our Creator. It's more than just reading a few verses and saying a prayer (not to diminish the importance of that at all), but about learning to love God like He wants us to.
Look at Mark 12:30 with me ...
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."
In order to love anyone with our heart, our mind, our soul and our bodies we have to do more than just touch base once a day and hangout one hour a week. That kind of love requires intimacy. It requires developing a deep connection with someone. It requires working together, struggling together and sharing together. It requires sharing our body, mind and spirit with another someone.
Marriage is such a perfect example of this level of love for someone. When we marry a person we begin a new level of our relationship with them. We could have acted like we were married before the wedding, but until that commitment is made out loud and in black and white the real fun hasn't started yet. Right?
From then on out we are married, by all accounts. We are legally married, socially accepted as a married couple and can truthfully present ourselves as such in the world. Presenting ourselves as married though, and having a deep abiding relationship with our spouse is two totally different things.
We can "be married" with a kiss and a signature. But, unless we work on a daily basis to develop that relationship heart, mind, body and spirit we don't have much more than a piece of paper keeping us legally bound to each other.
Developing a deep, loving relationship with our man requires intimacy. Not just the physical kind, but the communication kind, the heart kind and the spirit kind. We share our thoughts, feelings and bodies. In this aspect of our relationship with them it is just him and you. Nobody else.
Then, you have to learn how to live together. You have to share a home, a budget, responsibilities and plans. You have to do all the day-to-day stuff that means you share a life together, and not just a name.
Then, you have have to bring other people in. You add in kids, you hang with other couples, you go to seminars, you celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with other couples (and their kids), and you may look to other couples for guidance for your relationship.
All along the way you develop a deeper relationship, as you share experiences, develop memories and learn the in and outs of how to love each other. You learn what to say and what not to, when it's okay to make certain comments and when to shut up. You find out more about their dreams, and maybe they help develop some of your own. You share a home, children, friends and a life.
Of course this is the ideal marriage relationship. They aren't all like this, sadly. But, a deep relationship with God can be ours by practicing all the same principles with Him on a day to day basis. These principles are the spiritual disciplines.
Foster breaks up the spiritual disciplines into three categories: inward disciplines, outward disciplines and corporate disciplines.
Each of these correspond with the idealistic marriage relationship. First, we develop intimacy with God through meditation, prayer, study and fasting (the inward disciplines). Then, we learn how to express your relationship with Him on a daily basis, through simplicity, solitude, submission and service (the outward disciplines). Then, we grow deeper and stronger in our relationship with Him when we allow others to be part of it through worship, celebration, confession and guidance (the corporate disciplines).
We can either show up to church on Sunday and Wednesday and just be a "Christian", OR we can grow into a deeper, more meaningful, real life relationship with Him that is true to the command to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."
Which would you like to choose?
If you would like that deeper relationship, then come with us on this journey to developing this disciplines! I can't wait!
See this post to find out how you can participate with the Women of Discipline, a Facebook group of women who can encourage and uplift you along the way, as you can them.