Structure? Who, Me?

I’m embarrassed. Deeply. Soon, you’ll see why. A few months ago I posted how I got stuck spiritually, couldn’t figure out the cause, then God intervened in a very good Good Friday service. In the last week or so, I have some glimmers of the source.

 But know that I tend to hang loose. Too much regimentation and structure bring tension. Working hard is good, IF it varies. Now, here comes the embarrassment.

 For about 30 years, I was a “professional” Christian—a pastor, author of Christian books, a teacher. Each week, a deadline forced me into enough structure to study the Bible and communicate it. During that time, my walk went well. Oh yeah, some issues along the way, but God and I were buds.

 But in 2007, I began teaching English at a rigorous Christian high school. No time for writing, no time for depth study, no forced structure. I kept up, though. I attended and team taught an adult Bible class. I wove the Bible into the analysis of literature. I worshipped, and even preached on occasion.

 However, I slowly slipped from the level of depth in my study. And, I was OK spiritually. For some time, I had enough Bible accumulated that it stayed fresh. But my level of study couldn’t compensate for the slow draining that life brings.

 And, I got stuck. See why I’m embarrassed?

 Now, the solution for me is the same as the solution for you. No, that’s not regimentation. The solution only comes when we, on our own, spend significant time in studying God’s word—the Bible. Not just reading, but studying. Why did God suggest this? Command that? Why does this paragraph flow from the one before? What problem back then did the text address? What principle applies?

 Yeah, that’s conventional, and this blog is supposed to be unconventional. I get that. The twist comes in HOW we do it. I’ve yet to find a biblical command that we spend 15 minutes every morning in “quiet time.” Does that work for some? Absolutely. Did it work for me? For short periods. Then the regimentation of it short-circuited the process. For me.

 God wants us in His word, but he trusts us enough to give us the freedom to discover how we can best do it. Gary Thomas, in his book Sacred Pathways, explores the variety of paths different people follow into the heart of God. I strongly recommend it.

 The key for you and me? Find what works best for us, and that may require a lot of techniques. Then, monitor the level of our intimacy with God. Find the connection. Then, tell me how it went, OK?

 Kick Starting the Discussion

 On a scale of 1-10, the highest at the right side, how would you grade your intimacy with God? Next, grade how satisfied you are with that score. Then, grade your contentment with the time you spend listening to God, learning from God, from his word. Not others teaching about God, but mainline. Go to the source.

 What methods have worked for you in the past? Did they continue? Did anything sabotage them? Are they still working? What has enabled them to remain as vital spiritual practices for you?