Day Two: Your Personal Journey
Written by Jeremy Neckers
“God is not interested in your “spiritual life.” God is just interested in your life.
He intends to redeem it.”
The Life You’ve Always Wanted
My wife Maggie has this great thing she says to our girls. “Practice makes better.” Perfection, so it goes, is not the goal. It’s amazing to watch my daughters struggle with something. For them, it’s usually some sort or artwork…coloring, cutting, gluing, creating. And they want to be perfect from the beginning. They get frustrated and mad, and then they want to quit. I hear Maggie in those moments say, “It’s okay. Slow down. Try it again. Remember, practice makes better.”
It’s the same with God. Anytime I try to dig in deep, to pursue him more deliberately, like now in a season such as Lent, I want to see perfection. I want to prove to God that I am disciplined, that I can set a plan, set a course, and stick to it. And then life happens. I get busy. I get distracted, and inevitably, I get mad at myself. It’s in those moments, I hear God say, “It’s okay. Slow down. Try it again. Remember, practice makes better.”
We have a word that describes this part of God’s character. Grace. In any attempt of ours to draw close to God, to repent, to find healing, to grow, we will find quite quickly that our own inadequacies will get in the way. It’s in these very occasions when we experience the full force of God’s grace. It’s at this place we discover one of the great hidden mysteries of life in Jesus.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12.9
As the readings and meditations unfold in the coming weeks, we’ll take a look at different disciplines: prayer, fasting, solitude, and celebration among others. Each have their place in our lives, and each provides a path to a more compelling experience with God. In Celebration of Discipline, Richard J. Foster says it this way. “Somewhere in the subterranean chambers of your life you have heard the call to deeper, fuller living.”
In our pursuit of these disciplines, let’s agree not to forget the end goal. It isn’t perfection, right? The goal cannot be to get really good at being really good. Our purpose, our aim is God Himself, to know Him and the abundance of life He offers. Is it true this is possible only because of grace? Yes and of course. Is it also true this is possible only through the power of the Holy Spirit? Again, yes! But there’s more!
Look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12.10. “For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses.” It almost seems absurd, doesn’t it? It’s like our prayer goes something like this. “Father, you bring the grace. You bring the power, and I’ll bring me. It’s not much, but it’s all I have.” The Father’s response? “Good. That’s exactly what I want.”
Here’s the challenge. Begin with weakness. Begin with humility. Don’t try to be impressive. Relax. Slow down and seek Jesus. Remember, practice makes better.
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -Paul
Here are a few practical thoughts that may be helpful as we jump into this together. The idea is to spend 5, 10, 15 minutes each day reading, praying, & reflecting. For some, that’s already part of our routine, but for others of us, this may be new territory.
First, find a place. If I’m looking for the ideal spot, I’d be sitting outside on the porch with a cup of coffee and a grand view of the mountains…North Carolina, Colorado, Switzerland. I’m not picky. But since we live in Indiana and it’s March, that’s not going to happen (except for the coffee). Instead, I make do with a nice, comfy chair upstairs in our office at home. And I’ve found that God will meet me there.
Second, pick a time of day. From my experience, this is much less important than the place. For others, it’s absolutely key. I find that between 6:30 and 7:00 in the morning is ideal, but 9:00 at night works almost as well, too.
Third, decide from the beginning to take the long view and be patient. There may be days when all you do is read and then move on…that’s okay. You may fall behind a few days…that’s okay. There will be days that don’t strike you as particularly meaningful, and that’s okay too, but there will be days when you won’t be able to help yourself. You’ll need to pause, soak it in, pray. The idea is to consistently put yourself in a posture where you are willing to hear from God…to be encouraged, to be challenged, to open yourself to the work of God’s Spirit in you as He redeems your life.
Write this Way: Pick a place and a time you will read and reflect on the daily readings. Put this into your daily calendar. You can adjust as needed but having a plan will help you be consistent as you pursue drawing near to God. As we begin, reflect in your notebook; How can God’s power be made perfect in your weakness?
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About the Author
Jeremy Neckers is the Administrative Pastor at Commonway. Originally from southwestern New York, Jeremy moved to Muncie in the early 90s with his parents and sister. After graduating from Delta High School, he earned a degree in chemistry and biology from Ball State in 2002. While Jeremy has been a part of Commonway since its inception, he spent a number of years as a middle school math & science teacher before joining the staff. He and his wife, Maggie, live in Muncie with their two daughters.