I have to confess something … until June 2001, I had never heard of “spiritual disciplines.” I’m the wife, daughter, sister, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of pastors. I went to church every Sunday and Wednesday of most of my life. I attended a private Christian college. I’d even taught Bible studies. But until June 2001, when my dad gave me Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, I’d not heard one word about spiritual disciplines.
I also have to confess that it took me awhile to read the book. With countless references to people I’d never heard of like Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, and Francois Fenelon, I honestly felt very stupid and even a little lacking.
But, one night, I began reading … really reading … and the second line of the first chapter says,
The classical Disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move beyond surface living and into the depths. (1)
I was hooked! As the wife of a pastor and mother of a toddler, I needed to move to the depths … I was longing for it. I read and underlined and re-read. In fact, since that first reading the fall of 2001, I have read Celebration of Discipline at least once every year.
And what I found wasn’t trivial legalism or frustrating check lists. I didn’t experience condemnation or guilt as I read. Instead, I found centuries-old wisdom and examples of lives well lived for the cause of Christ. As I poured over the pages and dug into the Word of God, I experienced freedom and peace and longing for more than I had experienced previously in my spiritual walk.
The disciplines are simply tools. Foster states, “The purpose of the Disciplines is liberation from the stifling slavery to self-interest and fear” (2). As we pursue the depths of the disciple life, we find the disciplines as guides to those practices mentioned in Scripture such as fasting, prayer, worship and celebration. Over the next few weeks we will explore the Inward Disciplines (meditation, prayer, fasting, and study), the Outward Disciplines (simplicity, submission, solitude, and service) and the Corporate Disciplines (confession, worship, guidance, and celebration).
As you join us for this month of Digging the Disciplines, we hope you will find this study challenging and inspiring. Some of the disciplines will be familiar and some may not. Some may be practices you have already learned and some may be challenges for you to pursue. Regardless, our deepest longing is that as we dig into these ideas, we will all be drawn back to the Idea-Giver … the One who calls us His disciples and lovingly disciplines us and draws us near.
Will you join us?