Spiritual Practices: Wings or Weights?

Spiritual practices should give believers wings to fly. That'll be different for everybody. What may be a weight to one person will give wings to another.

I recently met a delightful 80-some-year-old lady. It wasn't long into the conversation when I realized we had kindred spirits, so much in common. She ran consistently until she turned 70. She loves growing things, loves to work in the yard. She has such a positive and generous spirit, so others-oriented. I fell in love with her from the moment I met her smiling face. She walked just short of a mile to meet us for lunch. She even has a Fitbit and tries to get in 10,000 steps a day. I was impressed!

As we got to know each other, I discovered one thing that we don't have in common. She's a morning person, most likely daily in her life rhythm. She sets her alarm for 5:05am every night before she goes to bed. Up early, she finds her morning time with the Lord a great start to her day. That would be a burden to me, a weight that bogged me down with it's routine and repetition, not to mention a 5:05am alarm. But for her it's exactly the opposite. She loves the routine, the familiarity, the consistency of the every day. Those early morning times in the Word give her wings to fly. 

I, on the other hand, don't do mornings. I'd rather find time on any given day (not necessarily every day) to sit for a while to journal, to read scripture with an accompanying commentary or book. My intellectual side (Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas) likes to study, ponder, research, and ask questions (within myself and in community). 

Currently, I'm beginning a study on the book of Romans. I've pulled Barclay's commentary off the shelf to read along side the passages of scripture. I'll read it in other translations, paraphrases. I'll discuss it with others. It will give words to my prayers. Taking time to understand the context, why Paul wrote what he did for the people of the time will give me understanding in the present day application. It will inspire my spirit, motivate me to live with a heart for the good news, and teach me how to extend my love to others in Jesus' name. 

That's how it works for me. Not everybody connects with the Scriptures in this way, but in my seasonal way of doing things, I camp for a season in the same place. Let me sit here for awhile and take it in.

This is a spiritual practice that gives me wings to fly.

Photo credit: Dina Horne (thanks Dina!) 

Photo credit: Dina Horne (thanks Dina!) 

I don't know how long I'll be in the book of Romans. It took me a year and a half to memorize and study the book of Ephesians. I camped out six months in the book of James. And, though I won't read Romans every day, I'll be mulling over the words in thought, in the reality of my life, and in the spirit of my heart. This is my seasonal/yearly rhythm at play in my spiritual formation. 

What lifts your spirit? What gives you joy? What carries you in difficult times? For so long I attempted to follow a formula that was dragging me down, a heavy weight of expectations. Once I was free to engage with the Word and God in a way that fit my seasonal lifestyle, I gained wings to fly, to soar above the dutiful expectations I tried to live within too long. 

Are you weighted down by your current spiritual practices? Then, consider what practices will give you wings to fly.

What spiritual practices give you wings?