Maintaining Balance

Have you ever felt your life was out of balance?  Have you ever had a season when you were simply to busy to rest and reflect upon your life but later came to realize that by resting and reflecting, your life actually got easier and made more sense?  I have just recently come through a season like this.

This past week Jamie, who leads our Fairfield Court missional community, shared that when our communities gather and the conversation is more spiritual in nature, there is a real energy in the room verses conversations that more focused on the tangible stuff our groups engage in like GED tutoring or planning a clothing give away.  I have also seen the exact opposite happen in groups that spend all their time on spiritually focused things, like bible studies.  Often these groups come alive when occasionally people start to discuss how they can tangibly live out the scriptures in the world.  I think the key is balance.

I just went back to a post that I wrote August 1, 2009, titled “Empowering a Movement” based on a book about Church of the Savior.

This particular quote from the book caught my attention:

“We have found it incredibly hard to hold to the concept of the inward and outward journeys. We early discovered that not many persons want them both. Weighted heavily on one side or the other, most of us struggle intensely to keep these two dimensions in any kind of creative tension in our individual and our corporate lives.”

I think we need to be intentional in balancing these two elements of the journey in our own lives and modeling that balance in our missional communities.  I think Jamie’s observation that when the conversation is rooted in the things of the spirit, the passion and energy is present is because perhaps we have been more heavily focused on the outer journey in our groups.  If we want to get to the core of some of the issues faced by those in our communities, like hopelessness and apathy,  we have to find ways of helping people along in their inner journey.

I would love to hear from all of you regarding practices you have developed that have helped you in your inner journey.

The outer journey is obviously the easy side of the equation for me.  I am a “doer” and I have to work hard at making time and space to simply “be”.  For me, practicing stillness or contemplative prayer in nature has been the most powerful practice for me related to the inner journey.  My time spent on my ridge alone in the middle of nowhere just sitting and soaking in the presence of God does more for my spirit than anything else I have found.  I gain such clarity and discernment from this practice in addition to inner peace and healing.  I experience the same healing presence when I am alone in my kayak.  Sometimes I paddle to spiritual music which can be healing but sometimes God sings to me through the birds of the air.  Today was one of those days…blue sky and God’s love in the subtle breeze across the water.

I took a class in seminary called Celtic Spirituality which met at Camp Hanover.  We would gather in a cabin, then we were to spend the next hour seeking God in the wilderness, then came back to class and shared where we met God.  It was a powerful class!  I learned more about spirituality in that one class than I did in all my theology books.

That has been my pathway to a healthy inner journey. When I neglect this practice, I become unhealthy and the outer journey is simply no fun. I encourage you all to share your own path.  I think it may help us to discern how we can help others find their way while we learn more about one another and how God has shaped each of us.

I ask that we embark in this sharing with a gracious spirit, a spirit that respects each contributors journey as valid and equally true as any other person’s journey.  My prayer is that while we may not all have the same practices, we all can respect the practices of others and the fruit that each practice yields.

So, where do you encounter God most powerfully?  How do you find inner peace and healing?

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8 Comments

Filed under Leadership, Urban Ministry

8 responses to “Maintaining Balance

  1. Jamie M.

    We had a wonderful God-inspired conversation this week about what it means to be the Church. I wanted to insert Joe Torrence’s name in where Wendy put mine, because he is the one who made the discerning observation about our team meetings and how the dynamic changes when we tend to focus on one side or the other.

    I think the awesome challenge we have is to submit to the Holy Spirit to teach and enable us to walk like Jesus, with a balance of grace and truth. He is the One who moves us and He IS the movement.

    As much as we would like to start our own movement, we are powerless on our own. However, as we yield to God, it feels like we are balanced on a razor’s edge and, but for the grace of God, we would not be able to stand at all. Our community gatherings sometimes feel like we are playing “hot and cold” with the Spirit of God. At times we compromise and are self-focused and walk in our own strength and the meeting just seems empty, cold so to speak. There are other times when we are solely focused on the work of graciously giving “fish” away, which still seems to be lacking something. Then, as we adjust with prayer, praise, truth, sharing, forgiving, and surrendering to God, it seems that our meetings become full, and the Spirit manifests warmth as we love Him and each other and as He enables us to do the good works He has prepared for us to do. This, I have found, is true for us individually as well as corporately. The more we focus on picking up the cross of loving God and loving others, we will sense in our spirits that we are definitely getting WARMER. However, the reality is that truth is a choice. We will either choose to be led by the flesh or choose to be led by the Spirit. My pastor always says, “Read your life!” and I believe if we read our interactions and relationships with others, we can self-discern what we are choosing, and then call on God’s grace to forgive us and bring us to a place of balance, a place of grace AND truth.

  2. Sarah

    I just sat in church this morning thinking I really needed to develop my own daily prayer service to help me stay on my own inward journey. I know when I feel closest to God and when I feel I fully know that He is the truth and the light is when I am in church, where I am quiet and focused on seeking Him and just feeling His presence in me. Then Monday comes, and I seem to let the usual “stuff” take over again… So I second what Wendy said – quiet time with God allows Him to fill us. And I’d also love to hear what practices others employ.

  3. Veronica B.

    God is so awesome that He shows himself to us constantly everyday in many ways. An awesome priviledge of being a parent is seeing how God teaches us through our children. He is the best and MOST experienced parent/teacher. He Knows all about us and knows how to meet us right where we are figuratively and literally. It is because of His unconditional and merciful love that He can draw people with love and kindness, and that includes the giving. In not placing conditions on the giving but giving purely out of love, He allows us to make decisions in our lives and learn from the results , and He does it over and over because He is patient , and knows the outcome. Personally , I do well when I allow God’s truth from THE Word to show itself in my life by seeking Him on my own, having faith that when I say Amen, it IS done. HE determines the best method in which to speak to me. My inward journey starts with Him in prayer, self examination, knowing my purpose, reading The Word, and letting God USE me. Instead of telling others how they should be, I find that if I allow the Son to shine in me, God SHOWS others how to be(sometimes through me). There is a time and a place for all things, an inward journey is exactly that, inward. When God works on the inside, it shows on the outside. None of us have completed our inward journey, but our outward journey gives us an opportunity to see how far we have yet to go and therein lies a balance.

  4. wmccaig

    Beautiful Practices Named so Far Keep them coming!

    From Wendy – Contemplative prayer in the wilderness of God’s creation

    From Jamie – prayer, praise, truth, sharing, forgiving, and surrendering to God, Discernment (read your life)

    From Sara P – Church, personal prayer life

    Veronica – Seeing God as our Heavenly parent through our children and the lessons they teach us, giving purely out of love, prayer, self examination, knowing my purpose, reading The Word, and letting God USE me

    Divine words of wisdom from Veronica – “When God works on the inside, it shows on the outside.” I think this is next weeks conversation starter. Great words Veronica!

    Keep the conversation going…add your thoughts!

  5. wmccaig

    Jamie sent me a wonderful article about prayer by Gordon Cosby who is the founder of Church of the Savior.

    My favorite quote from the article was “If I’m aware that that [invisible] realm is there, if I’m aware that it is a gracious reality, then I have a possibility of surrendering to the ocean of love which is ready to pour in on me….One final thing I’ve noticed is that when I take time for this kind of prayer then I see the future and hope, which has no rational basis, wells up within my spirit…. And I am able to see a tiny portion of the immense plan which constitutes His purpose. I can see my little place in that plan and in those moments the problems and the difficulties seem small and the wonder of it seems overwhelming.

    No one can convince another of this. Only God himself, in prayer can come and reveal these things to us.”

    Wonderful words to ponder…thanks Jamie for sharing. I encourage you all to read the full article at http://www.faithatwork.com/articles/2004/04-2/CosbyG_04-2.html

  6. wmccaig

    FROM YOLANDA

    Yolanda emailed me this and has granted me permission to share with everyone else.

    On the balance topic, I maintain balance by keeping God first. And then I am able to get my direction. When we began to feel unbalanced we are doing things that God has not told us to do and We have not even consulted with him to find out if he want us to do it. And we find ourselves doing alot of things becoming too busy and putting God’s name on it and He did not tell us to do it. We see things to be done but sometime God has already appointed someone else to do it. Read the book of 2 Corinthians 4:8&9 And it tells us that we are perplexed on every side. So you see sometimes the voice we hear is not always God. Sometimes it’s us, our own voice. So when I began to feel that way I step back and right down everything that I am committed to do and I evaluate what did I talk to God about first and what did I just do. And then I began to subtract from my list. See God said that he would not put more on us than we can bear. So if we are feeling unbalanced then its is something we should not be doing. When we feel unbalanced we also feel as though we are entangled in something, and as I sit here and write this I see that something as being a black net, you see when we are unbalanced we are an easy catch for the enemy. He is also a fisherman of men!!!! So let us watch as well as pray and remember that Good doesn’t always mean GOD. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.

  7. Pingback: Listening to the Lilies « View from the Bridge

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