Lenten Devotional Intro
February 17, 2021
Dear IPC Family,
One of my favorite hymns is “Take My Life and Let it Be.” The first stanza is:
Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
This, to me, is a vision of glory. When our redemption in Christ is fully complete, every aspect of our lives will be completely consecrated to our Lord. Every one of our moments, and every one of our days, for eternity, will be an endless stream of non-stop praise and devoted service. Why? Because, finally, our attitudes, words, and actions will be utterly devoted to love of God and love of neighbor.
Some of you may have wondered what all the fuss is about “spiritual disciplines.” You may have questions about the origins of practices like “silence and solitude.” You could be wondering if we should really be worried about “sabbath” now that Jesus has come.
Let me offer a simple and straightforward definition of the so-called spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are biblical disciplines of discipleship to Christ that help us practice drawing near to our Heavenly Father so that a life of consecration and ceaseless praise becomes second nature to us. To make it even more simple, we might say: spiritual disciplines involve apprenticeship to Jesus Christ.
While the disciplines of discipleship have their obvious roots in Scripture, their practice, like so much of life, is more of an art than a science. We only know so much about how biblical characters and Jesus himself drew near to God through silence, solitude, study, sabbath, giving, fasting, and feasting. Your sisters and brothers have searched the Scriptures, and reflected on their experiences, for clues about the theory and practice of the disciplines of discipleship. They have generously and courageously offered their spiritual wisdom to us here. Let’s read together with lots of charity. Let’s be open to learning something new—about the Bible; about the Christian experiences of others; about our own hearts.
Most of all, may I suggest that we each ask the Lord to help us identify which of the many disciplines of discipleship he might be leading us to learn more about? Ask God to help you integrate it into our daily spiritual lives, because you want to know Christ more intimately. Pick a discipline that seems a little foreign to your own experience, but which you sense is biblically grounded, life-giving, and will stretch you, spiritually. The best wisdom I can then impart is start small, but start right away.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all, in five years, look back upon Lent 2021 and say, “That was the season when I really started growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”?
Let’s apprentice ourselves to Jesus Christ in the days ahead. Together.