Yesterday I mentioned that I am currently at the Overseas Ministry Study Centre in New Haven CT teaching a class on spiritual renewal in the missionary community. I always start my sessions by asking participants to draw a picture that represents their spiritual journey. Each student then has the opportunity to share their journey focusing on the questions: What has made you feel close to God? When have you felt distant from God? and What are you most grateful for in your journey?
For me this is the most enriching part of the course. I always learn new things about myself and about God from the journeys that students share and this year’s class is no exception. One participant mentioned that he felt closest to God in times of poverty because then he was totally dependent on God. Another share that self satisfaction and comfort often make him feel distant from God because then he doesn’t really need to trust in God.
These two comments really impacted me, partly I think because Tom and I are currently participating in The Overflow Project’s 50 Day Challenge which I shared about in my post Simplicity is Not Simple on the MSA blog this morning.
These two converging events has been a great incentive for me to evaluate my own life and the issues I struggle with. The clutter of my life, the accumulation of possessions, the comfort of always having enough money for shelter, food and the essentials of life make it so easy for me to trust in myself and not in God. It is so easy to make the maintenance of those possessions my primary life focus. Time for developing intimacy with God is crowded out by preoccupations with money and possessions. No wonder the desert fathers and mothers withdrew into the desert and made vows of voluntary poverty in order to further their journey with God.
It is important for all of us to regularly and honestly evaluate our priorities and reflecting back on our life journeys is a wonderful tool to use to accomplish this.
My challenge for you this morning therefore is to reflect on your life journey – maybe draw a picture or use words and arrows to sketch it out. Then take time to reflect. Often these types of memories provide the richest material for strengthening our spiritual journeys.
What has drawn you close to God? What has distanced you from God? What are you grateful for in your life journey?
Now take time to consider what God is saying to you through this exercise. How can you use the journey of your past to strengthen your spiritual journey into the future? What practices should you nurture in order to grow in intimacy with God?