CALLED: From Dutiful Discipline to Abiding Desire

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July 15, 2014

A NOTE FROM ME: This week I’m headed to the Rocky Mountains to take my son trout fishing for his 14th birthday. The Daily Text this week will come from entries in my book, CALLED?! Following a Life Filled with the Possible (which is how I got started writing the Daily Text in the first place). As a further gift to you, our Daily Text readers, I want to give you a Digital Edition of the entire book.

This gift will be available all week for anyone who visits the site. Take the opportunity to encourage and family and friends to come over for a visit. We can’t promise coffee, but we will give them a book to go with it.   Get Your Book Here.

John 15:1-8

daily text logoI am the true vine, and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Abide in me, as I also abide in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must abide in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not abide in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

CONSIDER THIS

Dedication to devotion is not the goal. Discipline in spiritual practices is not the goal. Abiding does not consist in ratcheting up your “quiet time” a few notches. So what, you ask, is the goal? The goal is the life hid with Christ in God. If the secret to abiding is not dedication or devotion or discipline, then what is it?

Desire.

“One thing I ask of the Lord,” says the Psalmist, “this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” Psalm 27:4

Danish theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, famously said, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.”

desiresOur desires determine both our direction and destination. Yet so much devotional energy gets spent fighting against desire. Certainly, the desires seated deeply within our broken human nature lead us in the wrong direction.  Freedom from these broken desires comes not from striving to overcome them via our devotional habits. Doing so leads to a place where our habits stand in the way of our holiness. We become devoted to our devotion.  One may look the part on the outside, while inside the war rages.

We need a reorientation of desire that comes from a total renovation of the heart. This is why Jesus doesn’t spend his time developing strategies of sin management. The repentance he calls for and empowers cuts to the core of our desires and reorients them in such a way that they can be trusted instead of resisted. This is the liberty of the sons and daughters of God. This is what pruning and abiding are all about.

To move forward in response to the call of God might mean trading in the consistency of your devotion for the constancy of his abiding. It might seem a subtle distinction. In the end, it will make all the difference.

JOURNAL: How much time do you spend on a daily basis fighting your desires? How do your desires compete with one another and create internal conflict? How do you understand and interpret what this idea might mean to your “devotional” life? Allow yourself to wrestle with the challenge it may present.

Excerpts this week are taken from my book, CALLED: Following a Life Filled with the Possible. I’d like to give you a free copy — see the invitation at the top of today’s post.

J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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