Here’s the thing, I was told early on in my Christian walk, that it is every believer’s responsibility to do whatever is necessary to maintain a right relationship with God and mankind. So right from the get go, after my accelerated transformation in 1998, which commenced with attending Alpha, getting married, my baptism, and then my membership to NSAC. I was more than eager to improve my spiritual growth and enhance my life with God. In a short period of time, my church life was full and satisfying and my spiritual dance card was filled with the usual disciplines and devotions.
The next 12 years or so that followed, I continued on with my spiritual development which consisted of prayer time, bible reading, devotions and other Christian activities. It was more convenient for me to do my prayer time and bible reading at my desk at work early every morning. Same place, same time, and the same format. I slowly began to realize it was more about discipline and routine. I was trapped in a legalistic path without not even knowing it.
At that point, routine and discipline was a substitute for a personal relationship with our Lord. It was easy for me to make an idol out of routine, finding security within the boundaries I built around my life. My focus was on doing or not doing certain practices, which lead to an unsatisfying Christian life. My soul hungered for something deeper than a life of does and don’ts. My mundane spiritual life was choking the heart and soul of my relationship with God very quickly.
As a result of my retirement from work last year my normal routine significantly changed. I filled up my time with volunteer work in the church and the community, which lead to the demise of my morning spiritual practice.
So when the cultivating life invite was introduced at the church, I was stirred emotionally to fully engage in this endeavor. In a very short time I was back to my old legalistic behaviors.
Needless to say I was not successful in keeping my pledge to accomplish my new spiritual disciplines. I could not continue on with something that was not giving me life. However, as a result of my failure, God opened up my eyes to an unexpected break through, and some remarkable insights concerning my brokenness and powerlessness. More importantly my error was in centering on the disciplines and my routines not on Jesus.
Now my quiet times in the morning consist of reading Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations, Our Daily Bread, Jesus Calling and some time for quiet contemplation and conversation with my Heavenly Father. It is not a time filled with rigid practices to prompt God to love me more and bless me more, nor to avoid punishment for my sins. I strongly feel I can be my authentic self-warts and all when I spend time with our lord because of His Divine grace. I do this to keep the fire going and also because I am spiritually weak and cannot maintain an effective and joyful life without cultivating my Life with Christ.
Clearly the life that pleases God is not a set of religious duties, it’s to hear his voice and to rest and trust in him and obey his word.
My name is John. Mary-Louise and I have been attending North Shore Alliance Church since 1998 where we have truly been Blessed. Besides my passion for cheering on the Hamilton Tigercats, I am passionate and Blessed to have the opportunity to walk along side men in our church and community.