Richard Foster takes a turn now in Life with God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation’ target=_blank>Life With God to examine the means by which we immerse ourselves in the presence of God. If you are familiar with his earlier classic Celebration of Discipline, this chapter rehearses familiar territory. As each preceding chapter in LWG have led us to see how the mining of the scriptures contribute to an ever deepening acknowledgement of the presence of God, Foster now turns our attention to additional spiritual practices that contribute to strength and trust needed to wade into the deeper waters of a with God life.
For the Christian who has surrendered to the Lordship of Christ, whether it is realized or not, you are already given to life in the presence of God. As Peter wrote:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)
we have life and tools to live it in full but it is required of us that we nurture the intention. Rather than simply applying the transformation that God intends, He expects us to know the struggle and joy of the process of transformation. This striving and participation in the process teaches us lessons in holiness that we could not garner from an immediate transformation.
Practicing the spiritual disciplines is not without risk. The narrow path of the disciplined walk is flanked on both sides by temptations which threaten the integrity of the exercises. On one side, we run the risk of turning the discipline we choose into an end rather than a means. The Pharisees and Sadducees were well known for distorting the Law in this fashion. On the other slope lies the danger of devaluing the disciplines based on the false argument that no work can earn our righteousness, it is freely given. As with most distortions, this argument contains a grain of truth; we cannot earn our righteousness. But grace requires something from us in order to do its transforming work. The spiritual disciplines are the means to this end.
The spiritual disciplines are not onerous or unattainable. They do not enslave us even the term discipline can often take this connotation. The spiritual disciplines lead us on the path to true liberty in Christ as we experience the transformation that he intends to be measured out especially for each one of us. You’re invited into the deep waters. God will be there, all around, supporting you while allowing you to build the muscles needed to swim.