Every week I receive an e-mail from Mayo Clinic on how to live a healthier life. Recently it recommended that my dinner plate become more “colorful” with a variety of vegetables and fruit. Yesterday when I visited my mom, she and the other residents were served a plate bright with red pepper, yellow squash, green beans and orange carrots. Mom was eating healthy.
Afterwards I made the connection to yesterday’s post and my disparaging comments about zucchini. As I thought more, zucchini grows into what God created it to be: zucchini. It adds color and nutrition, if not taste, to many meals. It can be part of a healthy diet.
So I want to stretch the vegetable analogy. Perhaps, as Christians, we need variety in our spiritual disciplines to live healthy lives with God. We need to add color or spice (even zucchini?) to the ways we open our lives to God.
Certainly, if one has no discipline, no method of reading scripture, saying prayers, or attending worship, then the simple acts of reading Matthew or John, saying the Lord’s Prayer and participating in Sunday worship are a great beginning. But if such a pattern is already established, then variety may be needed. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Instead of praying a list of prayers, light a candle and sit in silence, listening for God
- Instead of reading a Bible chapter, do research on a favorite word in the Bible: love, joy
- Instead of praying at your desk or table, go for a walk outside and converse with God.
- Instead of attending your normal church, worship in a church of a different tradition: charismatic, Quaker, Roman Catholic (this is very hard to write as a pastor, but I do it when I am on vacation, so why shouldn’t you?)
In other words, change your pattern of spiritual discipline, with the intention of opening your life in a new way to God’s presence. You may discover that the old ways are still the best, but you may return with a fresh perspective. Or you may discover a new spiritual practice that you can embrace fully.
Lent starts tomorrow; what new spiritual disciplines might you embrace for the journey?
Great post John! Variety is indeed the spice of life. There is nothing better then to rattle your own cage and step out of the normal routine. It does bring a freshness and delight to what is normally a rote activity. Bring a pop of sassy green to a beige world. :o) Rock on zucchini.
For the last few months, I’ve been trying to embrace asking for forgiveness. This is usually the last thing I do in my prayers and sometimes it gets forgotten altogether. The problem is that with asking for forgiveness, I then have to think back about all the sins I did throughout the day and that is not a fun thing to do! We’ve talked about this at Bible Study recently and someone said something that really helped me. She said that with asking for forgiveness in your evening prayers, you then will be renewed the next morning. A new person, alive in Christ, because your sins are forgotten!