A couple weeks ago many of you had the opportunity to be a part of our latest Equip training on “Organizing Chaos.” You can find the podcast, notes, and handouts from this event HERE. At this equip training we discussed how life is ridiculously busy and how we are all searching for some sort of semblance of “balance.” However, I shared that achieving balance in life is impossible. We then spent the rest of the evening discussing how to develop a “Rule of Life” to live by (For a great resource on developing your own rule of life check out Steve Macchia’s Crafting a Rule of Life). I shared Peter Scazzero’s definition of a rule of life from his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. He defines a rule of life as “an intentional, conscious plan to keep God at the center of everything we do.” We then discussed why a rule of life has everything to do with organizing the chaos in our life. As we closed out the evening we discussed how, when we can keep God at the center of everything we do, interestingly enough, life becomes a lot more organized.
One of the elements of developing a rule of life that we were not able to spend a lot of time on was the spiritual priorities we need to make in our life. Over the next few weeks I want to share with you four “spiritual disciplines” that I believe are essential to keeping God at the center of our lives. Spiritual disciplines can be defined as disciplines that promote spiritual growth. If we want to organize the chaos in our lives I believe we need to incorporate these disciplines in some form or fashion.
Over the past few weeks we have talked about the importance of silence and solitude and Bible study and prayer. This week we are going to continue our discussion and focus on the spiritual priority of reflection.
As we’ve discussed over the past few weeks, we are all incredibly busy. Time doesn’t slow down. Priorities continue to pile up. All of us at one point or another have been at a place where we ask ourselves, “How in the world am I going to do everything I have to do in the amount of time I have to get it done?” We’ve all been there. Because we live this kind of lifestyle we often have little time to stop and smell the roses. In fact, many of us would probably say that anything that causes us to stop is not a good thing. I want to stop and challenge all of us (myself included) to consider the importance of stopping and reflecting upon life. While we all might have many responsibilities and tasks, we all have to stop from time to time. Next week we are going to discuss stopping to rest but this week I want to talk about stopping for the sake of reflecting. Some of you might be asking, “How is reflecting a spiritual priority?” I’ll answer that question but in order to do so I first want to share with you the two types of reflection I’d encourage you to practice.
We all recognize that God is very active in our lives. Scripture is clear that God is omnipresent or everywhere (Psalm 139:7-10; Jeremiah 23:24; Acts 17:24), omniscient or all-knowing (Psalm 139:1-6; Psalm 147:5; 1 John 3:20), and intimately involved in the events of our lives (Jeremiah 29:11; Luke 12:7; Romans 8:28). If that is the case then God is continually present and active all around us. He is active in both the things that are seen and the things that are unseen. Because of this I want to encourage each one of us to spend time reflecting upon God’s presence and activity in our lives. As you think about your day, week, and month where has God been present? Where have you experienced God in your day? It can be something as small as a sunrise or it can be as huge as being saved from a massive car crash. The significance of this reflection is simply to become more aware of God’s presence and activity in our lives. Don’t get caught up in the lie that God is not actively present. He’s present. Some times it requires us to slow down and look around.
The other type of reflection I’d encourage each of us in is a reflection of our intentions, thoughts, and actions. This type of reflection is critical because as Christians we are daily pursuing the righteousness of Christ. Our desire should be to conform to the image of Christ, to become more like Jesus. This is sanctification. This is God making us more holy. Sanctification, however, is a joint effort. While God is certainly the primary agent in making us holy, we have an active role in it as well. We must pursue holiness and flee from sin. Often times we do very little to reflect on how we are doing in pursuing holiness and fleeing from sin. Therefore we need times in our lives for reflection, reflecting on how we pursued holiness and fled from sin every day, week, and month.
My encouragement to each of us is first to take a look at Scripture. Find passages that speak to pursuing holiness and fleeing sin. The Bible is chalked full of these sorts of passages. Some great places to begin are passages such as Galatians 5:19-24, Colossians 3:5-16, and Romans 12:9-21. Meditate on these passages and then spend time reflecting upon your life. When you look at these passages does your life mirror the pursuit of holiness and flight from sin? Are you pursuing holiness and fleeing from sin, becoming more like Jesus?
So what are some steps that we can take to spend time in reflection? First, we have to set time aside for it. Maybe a time of daily reflection is just unrealistic for you. If that’s the case try to spend just an hour per week reflecting. Secondly, pray to God, asking him for discernment as you reflect back on your day, week, or month. Then begin to actually think back through your day, week, or month. Here you want to look for two things: (1) where was God present? and (2) where were moments where my intentions, thoughts, and actions were focused on pursuing holiness or focused on sin? After you spend time reflecting, thank God for what he has done in your life, whether that be because of his presence or because he kept you from sinning. Then confess where you sinned against God and others. Seek forgiveness both from God and the individual(s) you sinned against. Finally, conclude by renewing your desire to follow after God with all of your life, being aware of his presence always and being diligent to follow his way. Some of you might want to write out your reflections. Others might want simply to pray them. However you want to reflect, find the way that works best for you and do it.
Why then should we practice the spiritual priority of reflection? We all need to be more aware of God’s presence and activity in our lives. We also must daily pursue holiness and flee sin. Reflection is not just an exercise for those who are deep thinkers. It’s for everyone. We all need to be reminded of God’s presence, God’s holiness, and our sin. We need to be reminded of these things not for the simple fact of knowing them but because each and every day we should desire to become more like Jesus. May we all fight to practice more reflection for the sake of our holiness and God’s glory.
Next week we’ll wrap up our discussion on spiritual priorities by looking at the spiritual priority of Sabbath.