How to Practice Your Way Along the Path of Life

Dane wears a ponytail and holds a guitar. He has a gentle way about him. From his place behind the microphone, he leads our fellowship in worship, reminding us often what worship is. Worship involves two acts: recognizing and responding to God.  It is more than singing. It is a way of living, our primary calling.


I once saw Sunday as the end of the week. It seemed the calendar had it wrong. It didn’t feel like a beginning until I began practicing Sabbath rest on Saturdays.

I’m not a legalistic Sabbath-keeper. I don’t prepare food ahead or have a list of things I don’t do on the Sabbath. Sabbath for me is a heart condition. Like worship, it is an act of recognition that God doesn’t need me to help him keep the world spinning—on Saturdays or any other day. Declaring and living in the truth of the Sabbath positions my heart toward worship and surrender as I begin again on Sunday. I lay aside what entangles so I can run my race.


Both worship and Sabbath-keeping are practices that have and continue to shape my life. On the Sabbath, I step back from the hurried, drivenness of life to remember who God is and what he has done. He invites me to rest as a spiritual practice, and I accept the invitation. By resting in Jesus’ completed work of redemption, my trust in Him grows. I decrease that He may increase.

Sabbath is an opportunity to recognize who God is— to notice and acknowledge how he penetrates all of life. On Sunday, the beginning of the week, we gather to praise the One who has set before us life and death. We choose Life again and recommit our hearts in faith. This is the path of life, where we find the fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). God inhabits our praise. From our places in the world, we join with the saints present and past on the “highway of holiness.” There we are comforted as we make our way through the shadows. We are never alone.

“If God is present at every point in space, if we cannot go where He is not, cannot even conceive of a place where He is not, why then has not that Presence become the one universally celebrated fact of the world? The patriarch Jacob, "in the waste howling wilderness," gave the answer to that question. He saw a vision of God and cried out in wonder, "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not." Jacob had never been for one small division of a moment outside the circle of that all-pervading Presence. But he knew it not. That was his trouble, and it is ours. Men do not know that God is here. What a difference it would make if they knew.” (A.W. Tozer,  The Pursuit of God)

God is here. He is the with-us-God, the God in us. He wants us to know this is as our reality, to recognize His Presence in the world. When we never stop, when we never enter the practice of worship, when we fail to recognize and respond, we dwell in the “waste howling wilderness” with Jacob and so many others. God is near, but we don’t know it.

I’ve blogged these past months about setting intentions and entering spiritual practices in order to grow in faith. Some of them sound spiritual, even religious. Others may seem a stretch when it comes to living in the Kingdom of God—being a friend to God, stretching outside comfort zones, turning (my thoughts on taking up the cross daily), celebration, and reaching for contentment when faced with disappointment. These practices address areas where I desire to grow.


They are my things and may not be your things. We all have areas of weakness that need to be strengthened. We understand this from a physical standpoint. If we don’t have a lot of endurance, we strengthen our heart muscle by cardio exercise. If we want to strengthen our muscles, we pick up weights repeatedly. Our muscles respond. It is no different with our spiritual muscles. We can practice our way into lives that build our spiritual strength and our faith muscles as we walk the road the prophet Isaiah described:

A highway will be there, a roadway,
And it will be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean will not travel on it,
But it will be for him who walks that way,
And fools will not wander on it.
No lion will be there,
Nor will any vicious beast go up on it;
These will not be found there.
But the redeemed will walk there,
And the ransomed of the Lord will return
And come with joyful shouting to Zion,
With everlasting joy upon their heads.
They will find gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away. (Isaiah 35:8-10)

This is the way to the good life, the life at the end of our longing. It is the way of Jesus. When we learn to live according to His ways, we find the only true and beautiful path in life. We grow in our faith and become faithful. 

Am I perfect? Absolutely not. Not even close. Am I hopeful? Yes! Cynicism and despair are reaching epidemic proportions in this world for lack of hope—even among believers. This is why I share my journey—what Jesus is teaching me as I’ve traveled the highway to a life of joy and peace. 

Do you know where you are weak? God does. Are you willing to enter into practices that will strengthen your faith and help you move forward on your faith journey? He will help you.  You may not understand the process at first. Understanding comes with time and grace—lots of grace. 

Exercising is always more fun and more consistent in the company of another —or others. It’s the same on the spiritual journey, so thank you for going with me. We need each other.

Comments

  1. You know I love this! And you! Always!

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    1. Thank you for being my Sabbath mentor! Love you back!

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  2. I love this one too, especially how taking a Sabbath on a Saturday, which I do also, prepares our hearts to meet with God in our Sunday worship.
    You have offered me a pearl of wisdon here Dea.
    Thank you!
    and God Bless you. xx

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    1. Shelly has led us well when it comes to living in the gifts of Sabbath rest. God bless you as well my friend. xo

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