The life of faith is a life that needs nurturing. A life of faith doesn’t happen by natural means (John 6:44), and it cannot be maintained by natural means either.
But sometimes I treat my spiritual life like I treat the potted herbs on my window sill. I sort of assume they’ll stay alive on their own. I think they get enough sun, give or take, and I watered them oh, yesterday wasn’t it? I might forget about them for days except to occasionally admire how green they look or to glow when a friend walks in my kitchen and says, “How do you keep those beautiful plants alive?” The truth is they’ve only been there a few short weeks. Time proves that I don’t consider those plants as living things and I don’t take seriously the care they require. Now, they sit brown and dried up—dead.
When I assume the same things of my spiritual life—that my faith will stay strong with a little Scripture now and then, like a drizzle of water on a bowl of dust—I neglect the power of the life God has breathed into me. Assuming my own human strength, I underestimate the glory He has shared with me, the rescue He has granted, the future He promises. I grow forgetful, dry and hard.
I’ve been wondering and meditating lately on the practical ways I can nurture my spiritual life—because I need help. I need to learn and know what my faith needs to grow and to flourish, like I need to know what basil needs to live on my window sill. I need to figure out how to seek (Matthew 6:33), and feed (John 6:27), and endure (Matthew 24:13). It’s a matter of life and of death.
Here are a few ideas that come to mind. I write this list not so much as recommendation to you, but as a reminder and challenge for myself, and one I welcome you to enter into with me, if you’d like.
– Hear the stories and hearts of Christian saints. To consider the stories of the children of God is to glean rich insights and inspiration. Joni Eareckson Tada, Corrie ten Boom, Augustine, Jim & Elisabeth Elliot, John Calvin, and so many more—there is a host of witnesses to cheer us on our way.
– Commune deeply with other believers. I need friends who can share Scripture with me, and I with them. Friends who will ask me how my devotional life is going. Friends who will ask me to pray for them and with them. Conversations with brothers and sisters are key to my own perseverance.
– Pray on your knees. An uncomfortable position helps me to concentrate and perhaps more importantly, remember my own humility before the King of Kings and the awesome truth that He invites us, His children, into His throne room.
– Journal through Scripture. If I don’t write it down, it’s much harder for me to remember and engage. When I write, I can visualize, and add notes, and highlight, and draw arrows and circles to build understanding. I can record my prayers and my goals and review what the Lord has done. I find this beneficial.
– Serve others intentionally and in humility. Entering into another’s sorrow, bearing their burdens, putting aside my own interests for their interests—this shows me more of Christ.
Well, it’s a short list, but it’s somewhere to start. If I can pursue even one of these points each day, I can pursue growth and change—I can lay hold of strength, and glory, and life.
“Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well-built” (Luke 6:47-48).