This post is the fourth in the series entitled Whatever Happened to Our Backbones. The previous posts are:
Strengthening Our When my mother was in rehab following her back operation, she had a daily workout with the physiotherapists. They taught her how to strengthen her back muscles, how to walk again, and how to climb stairs. Without these exercises the operation would have been useless. Her muscles would have atrophied and she would never have regained her mobility.
It is not just my mother who needs exercises to strengthen her muscles and build up her spine. Research shows that because of our more sedentary lifestyles most of us have weaker muscles and lower bone density than our ancestors. Daily exercise regimes that build up our muscles and add density to our bones are essential for all of us.
Spiritually too we need daily exercises that support the steel in our backbones, transforming our statements of faith into life giving muscle. We need exercises that move our beliefs out of our heads an into our hearts, out of our knowledge boxes where they grow fat and and slovenly and into our life actions.
Here are some suggestions that I am putting into action even as I write these posts:
1. Read your statement of faith regularly. Since I started this series I have been reading my statement of faith each morning. Sometimes I read it out loud. Other times I read it quietly to myself allowing its truths to sink deep into my spirit refreshing and renewing my soul. It resonates deep within me strengthening my faith in what I believe and why I follow Christ.
2. Use your creed as a focus for meditation. This is an exercise that could take weeks or even months. Use each phrase of your creedal statement as a focusing point for your daily meditations. Progress slowly through the entire statement over a period of days or weeks allowing the spirit to remind you of who God is and what the implications for your life are.
This morning I started this process by meditating on “we believe in one God.” My thoughts revolved around the daily distractions and corrupting influences that so easily draw me away from trusting in God alone. Concern about the future is a big one for me and I think for many others in our world today. And I know how easily these concerns can lead to the worship of other gods – economic security for today, financial provision for tomorrow, even fear itself become gods that consume our attention each day.
These thoughts drew me into the scriptures to verses that encourage me to trust in God for my provision. My favourite is Psalm 37: 3-7. Trust in the Lord and do good… It is a great reminder of our need always to trust in the one true God and not be consumed by other gods. It is also a reminder that our trust should lead to action. Often one of the barriers to doing good is our concern about how we will provide for ourselves.
That led me to ask: Why do I think that God is trustworthy? That of course opened up another whole area of meditation and reflection that will probably carry me through the rest of the week.
3. Keep a journal of your reflections about God and your faith. Writing down our meditations and reflections is a wonderful way to reinforce our faith and strengthen our beliefs. I suggest you write your entire creedal statement out at the beginning of this section in your journal. Then write the phrase you want to focus on at the top of a fresh page. Write down your reflections. Add scriptures as they come to mind.
4. Put your thoughts into action. What is one thing you could do today that will reinforce your beliefs? How can I reinforce my belief in the trustworthiness of the One true God? How do I shut out the distracting voices that lead me to worship other gods? My decision for today is to pause regularly throughout the day to recentre my spirit on God, something that is easier said than done. Tomorrow I will share what happened.
5. Repeat the process daily or more frequently if necessary. This is not a one time exercise. Reminding ourselves about our core beliefs and transforming these into action is something that should form the backbone of our spiritual practices.