Monday, March 24, 2008

Becoming a slacker

Recently I heard Nouwen's quote:
As I entered into my fifties and was able to realize the unlikelihood of doubling my years, I came face to face with the simple question, "Did becoming older bring me closer to Jesus?"

After twenty-five years of priesthood, I found myself praying poorly, living somewhat isolated from other people, and very much preoccupied with burning issues. Everyone was saying that I was doing really well, but something inside was telling me that my success was putting my own soul in danger. I began to ask myself whether my lack of contemplative prayer, my loneliness, and my constantly changing involvement in what seemed most urgent were signs that the Spirit was gradually being suppressed.
In the Name of Jesus
Along these lines, I just read something about this in Buchanan's provocative Your God Is Too Safe, about disciplines. It comes via John Ortberg, who got it from Dallas Willard:
A discipline is any activity within our power that we engage in to enable us to do what we cannot do by direct effort.
Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy
page 353
I have lately been somewhat of a slacker -- ah, strike "somewhat of"; I have been a slacker when it comes to these disciplines. Why do I not love, why do I not care about people the way Jesus does? Why do I lack power to change myself? Partly because I've not been praying or meditating upon the Scriptures much. I've been studying, writing, teaching, working, so my slackness isn't of that nature. Rather it's been somewhat in the sense that Nouwen writes about -- praying poorly (and too little maybe) for example. And living, as Buchanan says, "in borderland," rather than in the "holy wild." Well, the "wild" business isn't such a good meta4 for me; I'm not a "wild" kind of guy.
(Digression: We spotted Krakauer's Into the Wild at B&N in Baltimore, and the younger teen asked how I liked the movie. "I wanted to slap him," I replied. "He had no right to throw his life away like that.")
But the concept of being more connected to God, of abiding in Christ (as John 15) -- that's something I can see is important and desirable. I want it!

Lord, please let me not sink to be a clod! (poem text here)

No comments: