Group Discussion on Walking With God, Part 2

For those of you just joining us, we’re taking a few days at The Diner to re-calibrate. You know, check up on our spiritual lives. It’s spring. It sounded like a good idea at the time. So, in order to do that, we’re listening to 30-minute snippets from Dr. John Hannah’s sessions at my church’s winter conference in 2006. Here’s the 2nd installment.

Some random thoughts before the main outline that stood out to me:

“God is more interested in character building than success. Success is the hobgoblin of small minds.” Notably, this runs contrary to much publishing you’ll find in Christian retail establishments. Former NBA arenas can be filled up on notions contrary to this statement.

“Part of the spiritual life is coming to grips with divine glory and human failure.” It simply seems so discouraging to me that before you really get started your expectations should be measured. I mean, I think the reason most people walk away from attempts at walking with God is the level of failure. It helps me to think that Hall of Fame baseball hitters have a .300 batting average. They fail 70% of the time, yet are considered great. So, adjusting expectations, but not excusing the failure is, in my way of thinking, an important part of the journey.

“[The proper perspective on life] …is understanding that meaning in life is related to Calvary.” Meditate on that for a while, wouldja? The implications if it’s true are staggering, and the implications if it’s true for those that don’t gain meaning in life related to Calvary are staggering.

The “meat & potatoes” of the 2nd half of the session came from Dr. Hannah’s way of getting you to think differently about what used to be called “spiritual disciplines.” In other words, he says that there are two areas we should think through:

First, vivification. That is, what are those things–ingredients–that we want to put into our lives that promote a God-honoring life? We’ll talk more about them in the upcoming sessions, but these are habits we want to put into our lives so that we can know God better, know ourselves better, and know our situation better. I won’t list them, because we’ll get more specific tomorrow and Sunday…but ultimately these can be difficult because we live in a culture that doesn’t revere thinking or reading or, generally, analysis of our environment against any standard at all other than my own “filter.” Thinking is hard work, and most people don’t want to do it.

Second, mortification. That is, what are those things that we should “die to,” that shouldn’t be in our lives? Again, the listing of these types things seem to be easier than actually being proactive and doing them. But there are things we don’t need in our lives and entangle us spiritually. Yes, we’ll talk about some of those on Monday & Tuesday and what to do about them.

Two last thoughts for today and we fire up the coffee and let you have at it:

First, and obviously, the spiritual life is about developing habits. These habits are going to be affected by our personalities and giftedness. We’re really good as Americans at making lists and producing steps, and what Dr. Hannah is getting at is that those that don’t naturally have a love for, say, reading, and they’re told they have to “read” to live the spiritual life are going to have trouble. I felt guilty for years because my prayer life was highly affected by my brain’s ability to focus on 100 things at once. I know others who are in a van-driving shuttling-children station in life and place horrible expectations on themselves to be perfect in this area. It’s much more organic and individualistic than we’ve been led to believe. And, because we’re better at “doing” than “being,” we create a standard which can be measured so we’ll “know” where we stand regarding the spiritual life–which is more about “being” than “doing.”

Second, that length of time in devotional exercises is irrelevant. Dr. Hannah’s point is well-spent. It isn’t important that you, say, pray 30 minutes a day or whatever. It’s the “every day” that’s more important. Also, in knowing yourself, it’s about realizing that we all have areas of success and failure, and the end result is that we shouldn’t measure “how well we’re doing” but by how much we love God and love others.

That should get you going for today. 1st half of session 2 for tomorrow, folks!