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Tuesday
Jul102012

The freedom that comes from spiritual discipline

One of the great blessings of traveling is that it changes my regular patterns of work. While I have been busy on this trip to Malaysia - meetings, speaking engagements, luncheons and dinners - I have also not had the constant barrage of telephone calls, office appointments and the regular expectations of daily life. This has allowed me an opportunity for silence, prayer and reflection. I feel that I have sorely needed this inner space for some time now. I do live a busy life between my various roles.

In my devotional time I like to read the scriptures, pray, have a time of silent centering prayer, and also read something challenging, encouraging, or instructive, from a Christian author. Here's what I read yesterday. It was very helpful on the relationship between freedom and spiritual discipline:

When we begin to ask what the conditions of inner renewal are, we receive essentially the same answers from nearly all of those whom we have most reason to respect. One major answer is the emphasis upon discipline. In the conduct of one's own life it is soon obvious, as many have learned the hard way, that empty freedom is a snare and a delusion. In following what comes naturally or easily, life simply ends in confusion, and in consequent disaster. Without the discipline of time, we spoil the next day the night before, and without the disciple of prayer, we are likely o end by having practically no experience of the divine-human encounter. However compassionate we may be with others, we dare not be soft or indulgent with ourselves. Excellence comes at a price, and one of the major prices is that of inner control.

We have not advanced very far in our spiritual lives if we have not encountered the basic paradox of freedom, to the effect that we are most free when we are bound. But not just any way of being bound will suffice; what matters is the character of the binding. The one who would like to be an athlete, but who is unwilling to discipline his body by regular exercise and by abstinence, is not free to excel on the field or the track. His failure to train rigorously and to live abstemiously denies him the freedom to go over the bar at the desired height, or to run with the desired speed and endurance. With one concerted voice the giants of the devotional life apply the same principle to the whole of life with the dictum: Discipline is the price of freedom.

- From The New Man of Our Time by Elton Trueblood.

What spiritual disciplines do you practice? Has your experience been that as you become more disciplined your capacity for freedom grows alongside the disciplines?

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    Football is really a single of the largest sports in America. It has a significant following.

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