Please welcome Sharla Fritz to the blog… a woman who wants to invite you for a spa day 🙂
After church one Sunday, a member of our congregation jokingly announced that our services would be much shorter if he gave the sermon. He would edit the message down to a few key words:
“Listen up people—do good stuff.”
If he wasn’t joking, I think he may have missed the point. Yet, at the same time I think many of us view the Christian life as a life of doing. I know I did. Even though I received the gift of God’s grace, I still had the feeling that I had to do more in order to please God. To grow spiritually, I needed to put in the time. Ramp up the effot.
I think this was because I viewed Christian life as a gym. Subconsciously I felt a certain repetition of prayers or a prescribed number of memorized Bible verses would automatically make me a stronger Christian. After all, daily doing a few dozen reps of bicep curls inevitably results in stronger arms.
But lately I’ve been thinking that Christian spirituality isn’t actually like going to a gym. It’s much more like going to a spa. At the gym you work. You run. You lift weights. You sweat.
But at a spa everything is done for you. Experts rub the kinks out of your aching back. They soften your rough skin and make your calloused feet look pretty again. All you need to is show up. You don’t have to drag out your determination and willpower to perform your workout routine. Instead you need to loosen your resistance and ambition for a time and simply receive.
Of course, Bible memorization and prayer and service are all good things—things God instructs us to do. But as I’ve gone a little further in the journey of faith I realize that it isn’t my effort that makes me a stronger Christian—because all of Christian life is a life of reception. No matter how many minutes I spend in prayer or how many chapters of the Bible I read, I cannot make myself more spiritual. It’s God’s Spirit who works out the kinks in my faith. He softens my heart and makes my spirit beautiful again. All I have to do is show up.
It’s the difference between pulling on my resolve to catch up in my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan and sitting down with God’s Word, simply asking Him to give me what I need to make it through the day. It’s the difference between checking off “Daily Devotions” on my to-do list and actually connecting with the God of the universe.
Our Christian growth doesn’t depend on us, but we do need to show up. We need to carve out time in our busy, noisy lives to receive the comfort and love God is continually holding out to us. We need to excavate space in our crowded hearts to receive the grace we so desperately need.
Christian spirituality is a not a life of doing. It is a life a receiving. Receiving from the persistent, compassionate, and tender God who calls Himself my Father.