Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thank God for a refreshing day after some light rain last night. Life is full of uncertainty. There were so much disasters going on around the world. Every part of the world seems to have some devastations going on. Rain storm, earthquakes, Tornados, flooding, plane crash, riots and car bombs that killed hundreds of people are flooding our News each day. There is no peace on earth. There is only peace in Christ. Amen? As we draw close to Him each day, we grow in our security in Him. God commits to nurture our growth in Him. And there is no shortcut in spiritual formation. It always takes time and focus to grow in Christ…
Spirituality requires context. Always. Boundaries, borders, limits. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” No one becomes more spiritual by becoming less material. No one becomes exalted by ascending in a gloriously colored hot-air balloon. Mature spirituality requires askesis, a training program custom-designed for each individual-in-community, and then continuously monitored and adapted as development takes place and conditions vary. It can never be mechanically imposed from without; it must be organically grown in locale. Askesis must be context sensitive.
God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I'm back home in the house of God for the rest of my life (Psalm 23 The Message).
Indeed, God train each one of His children differently according to the locale and situation that He put them in. It is not by coincident that you encounter the situation that you are in today. It is by His divine providence that He places you there. Then, the question you should ask is what kind of lesson that your Shepherd wants you to learn? It is your God-shepherd who has bedded you in that meadows and that quiet pools of water. It is your God-shepherd who allows you walk through Death Valley. And He must have a plan for you to grow through it. This is the askesis that Eugene Peterson talked about.
God’s training ground or askesis for His children may not be within the four walls of the church or in religious schools. It could be at some very unlikely places like fish belly for Jonah, and the cave where David encountered King Saul in the dark (1 Sam 24). God is our Provider, Protector and Pruner (the One who prunes us in according to John 15:2, so that we can bear more fruits). He will not stop shaping and molding His children in wherever they are. You may not like it. You may not be aware of it. You may even rebel against it, but you cannot stop Him loving you and pruning you so that your life will become awesomely whole and abundant just as He has promised. Take a prayer break and think about His lesson for you today.
Love you because of His amazing grace,