We watched two different programs on television recently. One was about Chip and Joanna Gaines expanding their silo footprint, which included creating a Wiffle Ball field. The second program we watched was the track and field events in the Olympics, and it just so happens that our son-in-law went to school with the gold medal shot put athlete, Ryan Crouser. My husband says this makes us famous, disregarding the degrees of separation.
The shot, for men, is a metal ball weighing 16 pounds. During the games, commentators kept saying, “Try picking up a bowling ball with one hand and tossing it across a field.” A Wiffle Ball, in comparison to a shot, is an inch smaller in diameter, hollow, and plastic.
The last year and a half have tested what we are made of. Hard times have slammed into all of us from many directions. If you could see inside of my personal journal, you would see the word “PAIN” written across the top of too many pages, followed by lists of new trials.
In all of this, we’re discovering what Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline, calls “spiritual density”. Is our relationship with God a solid, 16-pound ball of metal or a hollow Wiffle Ball made of nothing but plastic?
The trials of the last month have been so soul-crushing to me at times that I have played with the idea of giving up on the hard things, but the Spirit of God has used one verse to prod me forward:
If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength! (Proverbs 24:10 NIV)
Will you allow me to change the wording for a moment? If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your spiritual density.
Only the deep ruts of discipline have gotten me through the last months. When suffering a new hit to the gut, it has been spiritual habits such as listening to worship songs, meditating on memory verses, absorbing sermons, and intense times of calling out to God that have poured molten iron into my quaking soul. These disciplines have kept me praying and reaching for hope and trusting in the Lord and loving my people, under the most difficult of circumstances.
We don’t automatically go from Wiffle Ball to iron shot when we become a follower of Christ. We develop iron inside of us as we discipline ourselves to follow him over days, weeks, months and years.
I ask you: what is your spiritual density? The last year and a half have revealed it. When anxiety, despair, hopelessness, cynicism, fear, anger, or doubt have slammed into you, have you faltered or found strength in the Lord? Did you have solid spiritual disciplines that you naturally stepped into when the world began to break? Habits that helped you climb out of a dark hole?
Life is going to get harder, not easier, and especially for those of us who follow Christ. We cannot afford to be hollow and plastic.
It’s August. In a few weeks I’ll decorate my house with apples, because it’s a sign of school starting and crisp, cool days arriving. It’s a time when summer playing is over and it’s time to learn again. I want to challenge you to enter a season of learning and growing. Buy Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline, and walk through it slowly over the next year. I’m determining to do this, focusing on one discipline per month and beefing up my own spiritual density (we never stop working on this.) You can do the same–one discipline at a time.