Thursday, September 17, 2009

I failed, again!

I did not run last night.  Disappointment, an open house at my son's school, and just outright laziness sunk my good intentions again.  The funny thing is that I enjoy running.  I like to be out there giving it my all.  The truth is that I really enjoy the way I used to run.  When I run today, it seems all too difficult and exhausting.

I long for the days when prayer was easy, when fasting was a simple response to the demands of life, when spending time with God was enough.  The noise of life has long since convinced me that I can't have that again.  It will take too much for me to get "back there" again.  I'm just not the man now that I was back then.

Part of the problem is that I have become both subject and object of the disciplines.  I have to do them, and I do them for me.  What a sad commentary.  In a real sense, God should be both subject and object in the realm of the discipline.  We do them for Him and through Him.  He is the one who gives me strength to reach Him.

Foster says, "The life that is pleasing to God is not a series of religious duties.  We have only one thing to do, namely, to experience a life of relationship and intimacy with God, 'the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change' (James 1:17)."

I've learned in the last week that loving my wife takes more than good intentions as well.  17 years of marriage would seem like enough time to figure out the answer to "How do I love thee, let me count the ways . . ."  For so long, I have stumbled and bumbled my way through trying too hard and listening too little.  Paula, you have had more patience with me than any other person in the world. 

I finally "heard" her the other night as she told me that she didn't feel cherished.  Ironically, a few days later I would meet with a couple I am marrying in November and tell them that couples should work on communicating what their spouse needs to hear.  I had them do homework on what the most important quality they wanted in their marriage in the next 5, 10, 20 years.  As I told them about their need to find ways to communicate that to their future spouse, I was hit by what I had heard from Paula just the week before.  I am working hard to make sure she knows every day for the rest of her life that I cherish her.

Running and loving have more in common with the practice of the disciplines than I had realized.  The effort isn't the point; the end result is.  God isn't to be found at the finish line: he is the race.  Love isn't how I feel.  Love isn't how hard I try.  Love is the connection between the head, heart, and hands.  Knowing, being, and doing come into harmony when I love. 

The discipline of my hands is viable only when my heart and head are right.  Perhaps that is why I have diffiuclty with the disciplines.  Maybe I have tried knowing, being, or doing and have not combined the 3. 

God, change my head and my heart and my hands.  Bring them into unity so I can know you, be with you, and serve you.

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