The Formula for Spiritual Growth


Most people love a formula.

Do this. Do that. And you’ll get this.

Simple. No mystery. No strain. No unpredictability.

We want a formula for dating, marriage, work, community, church, sports, and especially for our spiritual lives.

Two cups of Bible. One half teaspoon of sermons. Three tablespoons of unsalted community. Stir in devotional book. Evenly pray pan. Preheat to 350 degrees of worship. Let stand for two mission trips.

It sounds a little complicated, sure, but wouldn’t it be nice? We’d at least be in control this way.

But I have bad news.

There’s no formula. No recipe. No exacts.

Certainly, there are requisite ingredients. Sound doctrine. Wisdom. Spiritual disciplines. But a formula? A program? Fat chance.

Why? Because God isn’t baking a cake. He’s baking unique you. He’s not making a clone army. He’s displaying his infinite beauty across a sea of people. He’s re-creating the marred imago dei in us.

If you press for a formula, you’ll go nuts. If you return to an old well, you may be disappointed. If you try to mimic another, prepare for discomfort.

So what’s the solution?

Dependency. Embrace the journey. Walk humbly before your God. He will show you the way.

There is no other way that I know.

Coming to Stillness

Peruse a devotional book in the contemplative stream, and you will often find the initial call of every reading is first the call to “come to stillness.”

Coming to stillness seems to be the hurdle of my personal devotion. The tasks of devotion are pleasant enough. Reading the Bible is often enjoyable and productive. The silent reflection I welcome. And I certainly have plenty for which to pray.

The problem is not what I find in stillness. It’s simply coming to stillness.

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Everyday Spirituality

The mystics are onto something. There is another plane to this life, something more than we can see, more than we can fully understand. I think it is right and good to embrace and be shaped by that mystery.

Cross Lake Photo

But even so, we must be careful to avoid platonizing Christian devotion. There is no high life or low life. The goal of my devotion is not to escape this world for some mystical union. Rather, the goal is to see and show God in every aspect of my everyday life.

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