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Croc Thoughts

Finding space for spiritual disciplines

Drew Shriner poses with his Crocs.

By Drew Shriner | Echo

I was at home this J-Term, working, reading and, surprisingly, taking a J-Term class. I had planned on the break being a time to rest before second semester, but I couldn’t keep myself away from the classroom and audited a J-Term class at the high school I attended (yes, my high school has a J-Term).

The class I audited is called “Simplicity as a Discipline,” studying under the sage librarian Mrs. Burks. I, along with 13 high schoolers, explored the spiritual discipline of simplicity, something I have realized is missing from the Church.

Though I have much to say on the discipline of simplicity, I would like to talk with you about the spiritual disciplines as a whole today, which are a vital part of the Christian life.

Richard Foster, author of “Freedom of Simplicity” and the celebrated book “Celebration of Discipline,” writes, “The Spiritual Disciplines are the conduit through which our obedience flows; they are visible ways by which we express our discipleship. And more importantly, they set us before God in such a way that we can be transformed and conformed to the way of Christ.”

This is a matter of Christian living. How are we conforming ourselves to the image of Christ each day? The spiritual disciplines are time-tested practices that can draw us closer to God.

Some of the disciplines are the traditional, “Christian-y” things that we all know we should do, i.e. pray and read the Bible — the Sunday school answers. Others are a bit more obscure, like silence and solitude. Some affect our outward living, like simplicity. Others are primarily inward, like meditation. The disciplines vary greatly, and that is part of their beauty — they touch every part of a Christian’s life.

How could we incorporate the spiritual disciplines into our daily lives more fully?

Some would be simple, some less so. The inward disciplines — meditation, prayer, fasting and study — could easily be practiced by making time for them in each day.

The outward disciplines — simplicity, solitude, submission and service — may be more difficult. Solitude is especially difficult in a place where we live with a roommate (or two), many other wing/floormates, and with nearly 2,000 classmates.

We are given an opportunity to practice the corporate disciplines — confession, worship, guidance and celebration — three times per week at chapel, but I have found that people are more than willing to respond to someone’s call for extra praise, confession or celebration.

The disciplines are not a simple list of things to do to get into heaven, however. When they are practiced with a legalistic, check-off-the-box mindset, they lose much of their transformative power. They are tools that help people who want to grow closer to God to so.

There are many more disciplines than just the 12 that I have mentioned, and there are many, many more works than Richard Foster’s, but these may be a good place to start. I would encourage anyone looking to explore the spiritual disciplines to pick one that feels especially relevant or challenging to them. Then, begin to explore that one. Start with something small, and then work up. Perhaps begin with a one-day fast from food or social media or a 10-minute period of silence. As you discover and grow more comfortable with a discipline, continue to challenge yourself.

If we are able to take these to heart, we may become a campus that is closer and closer to God.

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