I love Jesus. I appreciate personally knowing the transcendent Creator of the universe (one of my books, A Passionate Pursuit of God, focuses on this). I realize the need to nurture this relationship regularly. Not once a week, not even once a day, but moment by moment. And I’ve tried just about every method suggested by those who know. Daily devotion books. Christian living books. Study guides. Practicing the presence. And they have all worked. Until…they didn’t.
The flaw resides more in me than them. And from talking to fellow followers, that flaw seems to infect many of us. Then, several weeks ago, several thoughts coalesced with a lesson I learned back in a MA in Ministry class—Chaos Theory. Here’s the scoop.
Most institutions, including churches, follow the classic bell curve, like above. After they begin they have a time of slow growth which then increases. After some time the rate of growth slows into a plateau, followed by a slow decline that also increases, leading to death. Few survive, and thrive, after the decline gets established. Unless some chaos gets introduced.
Or, change things enough to slow the growth while the institution remains healthy, still on the incline. Significant enough to require rebooting, but not so great it brings death. That fresh start begins the process again, growth increasing from mild to stronger, without ever reaching the plateau stage. And you keep it up.
So, how does Chaos Theory impact our devotional life? Before our method goes stale, change it. Mix in four to five different methods you can switch between. The four in my rotation now are Just Jesus, a chronological self study of Jesus’ life (focusing on what each event says about Jesus, and what that says to me. I can send a free digital copy, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org), meeting regularly with a solid Christian friend, reading a challenging book on the Christian life, and reading through the Minor Prophets in the Old Testament. My plan involves doing each for no more than a week at a time, then shifting until I come back to the first, but I’m likely to keep tweaking this.
Kick Starting the Application
Have you used, or are you using now, some form of daily devotions? How have they worked for you? Have they gone flat at some point? Any idea why? Are you ready to try something different? Try to think of four to five methods that you think might work for you. Are you willing to try each of them for a week, for a total of a month, before you evaluate it? If you’re not doing something regular, beyond corporate worship or a weekly home group, to nurture your faith, why not? Are you content with that?