By Steve Klassen
It has been very refreshing to facilitate a month-long focus of practicing spiritual disciplines for the Canadian Lutheran Bible Institute. The whole student body was invited to choose two disciplines and practice each of them for at least 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week. A solo day with God in solitude ended the class last Friday.
The feedback in the form of written reflections and verbal input in the classroom has been rich. The most compelling thought for me is simple: students have taken their eyes off themselves and become aware of God’s presence with them. And isn’t that what spiritual disciplines are all about?
Even though I asked questions about the impact on them, the weight of their reflections causes me to delight and celebrate in who God is in all his goodness. And so my God rant begins…
Students found God revealing himself first of all as a peaceful and loving, ever-present God. Many were struck by God’s patience and gracious nature – not in a rush, willing to wait, merciful and restful. Some pondered God’s creative and very capable active presence. Others noticed God was on his own time schedule, and even though creation is always speaking to us God was seemingly quiet when they wished he would have spoken.
Some noticed God’s humor and surprises. Many focused on God’s faithfulness and unfailing love in the face of their brokenness. One reflected on God’s romantic nature and it rung true. Another declared he’s “a good good Father” and another the Good Shepherd. The declarations continued and I quote…God is humble. He’s everywhere. He cares about the smallest details. God is generous! Our Creator is brilliant. God is in control and his ways are perfect. He’s mysterious, brave, even reckless, renewing.
I believe I got a glimpse of the impact of practicing a variety of spiritual disciplines. Again I quote directly from these students’ reflections:
Brokenness does not equal lack of beauty. I can rest. I received peace. I relaxed in God’s presence. I can laugh. I realized I am easily distracted but I felt like God was inviting me to trust him even with that weakness. Students came out of the silence focused, rested, joyful, renewed, lifted, forgiven, grateful and full of hope.
I close with a quote from Eugene Petersen and a question for you.
“The contemplative life generates and releases an enormous amount of energy into the world; the enlivening energy of God’s grace, rather than the enervating frenzy of our pride.”
Is there a spiritual discipline you are currently practicing that is helping you get your eyes on God? I’d love to hear from you!