Motivated Spirituality

On November 9, 2009, the New York Times reported a large, man-made area in the Pacific Ocean, north of Hawaii, containing “(l)ight bulbs, bottle caps, toothbrushes, Popsicle sticks and tiny pieces of plastic, each the size of a grain of rice.” This “area of widely dispersed trash . . . doubles in size every decade and is now believed to be roughly twice the size of Texas.”Accompanying the article is a photo of a spotted gray trigger fish living inside a caulking tube within the floating continent of refuse. Adopting the tube as its personal space, the fish snapped at any creature, fish or human, approaching it.

fish_in_caulk_tubeIf I am not careful, my spiritual life can be encapsulated in a similarly unnatural and poisonous milieu. Unlike the spotted fish, external forces are not the greatest danger to my life in Christ, but the practices and attitudes establishing me, rather than my creator, as the focal point of worship. Once ensconced in this self-centered terrain, I can be as dogmatic about retaining my poison-filled existence as the fish. I allow the familiarity of my spiritual lifestyle to trump its reality.

I am either forming my life in Christ or my life in the world. The mini-continent of pollution did not burst into existence overnight; it was formed through decades of daily contributions. Living the Christ-filled life requires a similar effort. In three different letters Paul refers to keeping our faith as a race that requires perseverance. To enable God’s spirit to increase in my life means to decrease the focus on myself. To love God with all my heart, soul and mind requires me to not allow anything else to have pre-eminence. I need his words to feed my soul and nourish this life I live in him, and I need his presence in prayer throughout my day to maintain his perspective on my life.

Unfortunately, there is another part to this story. The author notes that when a human or larger fish eats the fish that has eaten the plastic, the toxins within the smaller fish can be transferred to whatever consumes it. Sadly, this is true for my life, too. As Paul describes, I am a part of a body of believers whose lives in Christ influence each other. From the words  of my interactions to the prayers I lift up for others, I can choose to share with my community of believers Christ’s truth and love, or I can encumber them with more detritus. Which will it be-- giving His grace, love and healing, or the poisons of tightly-held spiritual toxins?

Read the NY Times article: Afloat in the Ocean, Expanding Islands of Trash

Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 1 Corinthians 9:24

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

Motivated Audio & Video

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Motivated Reflection

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Audio & Video

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Favorites

  • The Lives of the Mystics-an interview with Emilie Griffin +

    An interview with Emilie Griffin—author of the new book Wonderful and Dark Is This Road—on the lives of Mystics and how they Read More
  • We Shall All Be Reunited by Patty Griffin +

    Where is now my father's familyThat was here so long ago?Sitting 'round the kitchen firesideBrightened by the ruddy glow Read More
  • Doorways into the prayer life by Emilie Griffin +

    Emilie Griffin spoke at a 1999 Renovaré International Conference Read More
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Hidden Blessings

  • Freedom of Simplicity, Richard Foster +

    In Freedom of Simplicity Foster gently encourages us to see that our identity, our sense of comfort and security must Read More
  • Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster +

    The Path to Spiritual Growth The book on spiritual disciplines. Read More
  • Spiritual Classics, Richard Foster and Emilie Griffiin +

    Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines Good collection of essays, saints throughout the ages. A Read More
  • Prayer by Richard Foster +

    A prayer Richard Foster uses when beginning a time of contemplation: By the authority of Almighty God, I surround myself Read More
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