In the third part of Rich’s “away” series he talked about maintaining spiritual disciplines while on vacation. Spiritual disciplines can be things like reading the bible, praying, maybe even fasting, but more generally it’s about maintaining our “christian-ness” while away from our usual routine.
But in order to maintain a discipline you first have to have it, which for me is where I need to start. I’m good at practicing existing disciplines on vacation. I took two vacations this spring, each about a week long and on both I managed to write, research fractals, program, and maintain my skills in all the areas I give priority at home. If anything I had more time and discipline for writing on the road than my typical week affords me.
My second trip in particular would have been a classic opportunity to appreciate God. Cedar Campus, is a camp in the middle of the North woods of the upper peninsula where I used to go every year growing up. Not only is it a Christian camp, it’s simply beautiful and a great place to experience silence and the grandeur of God’s creation. I’m not saying I didn’t appreciate these things when I was there, but the experience was casual at best and definitely not deliberate.
My trouble is I tend to jump in whole hog when I try to start a new spiritual discipline, like Bible study. I don’t get a whole lot out of simple devotionals and one verse thoughts, I like to dig deep. I like to read a passage, then answer a set of fifteen questions about it. And I do all this by hand because it’s somehow more pure than typing. The result of this is that I only have kept a regular bible study going for about two weeks before pooping out. With my writing goals I have learned to be more sensible, to be practical about the number of blog posts I write each week, the number of words each session. But with Bible study I have not practiced enough to know which things to keep and which to discard.
And praying for long periods is also difficult. I’m not a quiet contemplative guy. I’m always thinking about something, my mind is searching for the next plot detail, the next solution to my programming objectives, or the best bit of Simpsons trivia. Sitting quietly and just trying to listen or talk to God is pretty much the opposite of my personality.
I know the best thing is to start small, and I’m doing what I can to put God in my way, or myself in the way of God. I install Bible study programs in my startup menu, keep devotional books in easy access at all times, and try to find moments of peace where I can really talk to God (like my commute, surprisingly). Maintaining these disciplines once I have them doesn’t feel like it will be that difficult for me, since I’m a strangely ordered individual. I just need to establish these habits in the first place.
It doesn’t help that my Dad is all too awesome at this (just kidding 😉 ). Tomorrow you’ll hear from someone who does the regular discipline thing well.