But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Psalms 73:16-17 (ESV)
Last week I was at a conference where I heard Dallas Willard, author of The Divine Conspiracy, talk for a day about spiritual formation and how that related to emotionally healthy spirituality.
Dallas offered a fascinating insight about will power. He observes that just because we may choose to change, we have very limited ability to do so. When David was observing, with his own limited abilities, how the wicked prospered in Ps 73, he became discouraged about the point of living righteously.
But David had a habit of going into the sanctuary on a regular basis to worship God, and perhaps to hear the scriptures. When he was in this place, then he was able to get God’s perspective of how the wicked, in the end, would obtain punishment, not blessing; and that he was far better off following God.
Dallas talked about spiritual disciplines, such as solitude, silence, fasting, prayer, scripture meditation and memorization and worship. He said that their place is helping us connect with God. When we use our will, limited as it is, to choose do the spiritual disciplines, then we place ourselves in a position to receive grace, to give us power, to be plugged into the vine.
This is putting us in a position where we have the wind at our backs in our journey. By joining God in what he is doing, we jump into the river of God’s grace and are carried along by his strong current, taking us far further than we could go on our own.
Another example he gave was comparing moving earth with a shovel, which we can do on our own, one spade at a time. Or we can climb into a powerful earth moving machine and run the controls to have it move several cubic yards at a time. That illustrates the difference between what we can do on our own vs. joining God’s power through participating in spiritual disciplines.
My take away: instead of feeling like I have to do the disciplines, it makes me want to do them.