In his latest book, The Pastor, renowned author Eugene Peterson writes that early in ministry, “I wasn’t prepared for the low level of interest that the men and women in my congregation had in God and the scriptures, prayer and their souls. Not that they didn’t believe and value these things; they just weren’t very interested.” (p.104)
God, scriptures, prayer, and souls.
None of us would deny their importance. But they hardly form the center of our existence. We constantly embrace the inferior. My doctor insists on the healthful value of vegetables, fruit, milk, and vitamins, but my tastebuds seem to prefer a different dietary foundation—pizza (Little Caesars), tacos (Del Taco), burgers and fries (McDonalds)—even though such menu-items leave me heavier, less energetic, and in poorer health.
Do we embrace lives centered in Him, attentive to Him, and discerning of Him? Do we practice a rhythm of God-awareness, God-engagement, and God-yieldedness?
For many of us, quick spirituality seems as desirable as fast food. I’d like to order it and have it delivered before I get to the second window—please. I’d like it served hot and fast—thankyou very much—because time is precious and I have much to do. But eventually I discover that reheated spirituality is not nearly as heart-healthy as I hoped. In fact, it kills my taste for what is most real.
God, scriptures, prayer, and souls. “They just weren’t very interested,” writes Peterson.
Might the shallowness of the church—and the hollowness of our own lives—reflect our failure to embrace these spiritual pillars? Have we allowed the pursuit of our dreams to usurp our pursuit of God? Have we placed higher value on social media than Scripture? Have we replaced prayerfulness with busyness? Have we neglected our souls to satisfy our bodies?
God, scriptures, prayer, and souls. How interested are we?
Spiritual fast-food tastes like cardboard—and does about as much good for us. Are we ready to cook up the ancient recipe that requires a crockpot rather than a microwave? By the way, that’s the essence of Lent, which starts today. Forty days of deeper attentiveness. Forty days of sharper spiritual focus.
Because of Grace.
P.S. If you’re interested in a great tool for Lent, I’d recommend The Rhythm of Prayer: A Forty Day Experience by Mark Moore, published in 2006 by Wesleyan Publishing House.