Does Your Spiritual Life Feel Like Drudgery?

Ever have the nagging feeling of drudgery or monotony hanging over your spiritual life? Descriptions like “going through the motions” or “on cruise control” seem apt?

I read something this week which helped me connect the dots a little.

“Imagine six-year old Kevin, whose parents have enrolled him in music lessons. After school every afternoon, he sits in the living room and reluctantly strums “Home on the Range” while watching his buddies play baseball in the park across the street. That’s discipline without direction. It’s drudgery.

Now suppose Kevin is visited by an angel…in a vision he’s taken to Carnegie Hall. He’s shown a guitar virtuoso giving a concert. Usually bored by classical music, Kevin is astonished by what he sees and hears. The musician’s fingers dance excitedly on the strings with fluidity and grace. Kevin thinks of how stupid and klunky his hands feel when they halt and stumble over the chords. The virtuoso blends clean, soaring notes into a musical aroma that wafts from his guitar. Kevin remembers his toneless, irritating discord that comes stumbling out of his.

But Kevin is enchanted. His head tilts slightly to one side as he listens. He drinks in everything. He never imagined that anyone could play the guitar like this.

“What do you think Kevin?” asks the angel.
The answer is a soft, slow, six year-old’s “W-o-w!”

The vision vanishes, and the angel is again standing in front of Kevin in his living room. “Kevin,” says the angel, “the wonderful musician you saw is you in a few years.” Then pointing at the guitar, the angel declares, “But you must practice!”

There is a lot of “practice” to be had in the Christian life. It’s what we could call the “spiritual disciplines.”

You know, prayer, fasting, community, devotional reading, Bible study, Scripture memorization, accountability, confession. You’ve tried them. Probably a hundred times.

But have they sometimes felt like drudgery? If so, it’s probably because you were practicing them with no direction. With no end. With no purpose.

So, yes, practice the spiritual disciplines. You probably can’t get through one sermon at The Crossing without some mention, hint, or command to practice a spiritual discipline.

But do so knowing that it has a purpose. You are taking steps down a path to the righteousness that God promises he’ll accomplish in every believer. Philippians 1:6 says “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Just remember – Discipline without direction is drudgery.

* The cited section above is from a fine book on the spiritual disciplines – Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney.

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