This is the 6th week in our Sunday series, “Running on Empty,” by Fil Anderson. If you’ve missed the first 5, catch up here:
- The Condition of Your Soul
- Hearing the Voice of God
- The Fear of Insignificance
- What’s True About God & You
- Frustrated Desires
Part 6: Greenhousing Your Life With God
Living In A Toxic World
When I was in college, I spent several weeks traveling throughout Japan. I vividly recall the polluted, cloudlike darkness that seemed to hang over the larger cities and the constant struggle involved in breathing the smog-filled air. Glass-lined booths lined Tokyo’s streets, available to pedestrians should they want to pop in for a few breaths of fresh air. I remember coming out of one, hoping I’d make it to the next booth without choking on the bitter air. However, as my pace quickened, some pedestrians appeared so accustomed to the smell that they made their way without ever stopping for a breath of fresh air.
The memory of my ducking into those human-size fishbowls to escape the toxic world for a breath of fresh air is a metaphor for the kind of world we live in and how we can choose to live. Without recognizing what’s happening, the toxic environment we live in will kill our soul as surely as the toxic air in Japan would have eventually killed my body. We must be attentive to the way we’re living or we’re doomed for trouble.
A Thriving Relationship With God
For many years my father-in-law had a greenhouse where any plant would’ve been honored to grow. Walking down the rows, it was apparent that he knew just what his plants need in order to thrive. Providing what they required was a source of delight and satisfaction. Many of the plants that lived in his greenhouse were not native to the area where he lived, yet he lovingly took the time to create just the right environment, and then the plants took over and did what they did best. They grew. He had a lot of knowledge of and respect for the way they grew best.
A healthy, thriving relationship with God is not native to our world. You and I are not native to this world. Therefore, for our relationships with God to flourish, we must take seriously the greenhousing of our soul’s relationships with God. We must learn to pay attention and yield to the provision God makes for us as he provides the best environment in which we will grow in this toxic world. Our soul’s relationship with God will thrive only if we allow God to protect and nurture us.
The thriving life we yearn for is the life to which we have been called. It is precisely the life Jesus is referring to when he says, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10). It’s a life of unhurried contentment, peace, and power. It’s concrete, simple, authentic, and compelling.
However, such a life doesn’t simply fall from the sky and land in our laps. There’s no earning it, however, it does require sincere desire and focused intent. Although it might sometimes seem inconvenient, it is not complicated. There is a God-ordained means to becoming the kind of persons that can experience rich and satisfying living. And these “means” involve us in a process of intentionally “train[ing]…in godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). This is the purpose of the disciplines of the spiritual life that are designed to bring us more and more completely into the life for which we were made.
Exploring Spiritual Disciplines
In the remaining weeks of this series we’ll explore several spiritual disciplines. These habits or practices are the ways we go about training in our life as followers of Jesus. By means of this process we become, with time and experience, the kinds of persons who naturally and freely express “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
- Which ones of the many and varied spiritual disciplines are you currently practicing?
- How have you seen your life change as a result of your spiritual habits?
Fil Anderson is a spiritual director, conference speaker, writer and retreat leader. He served on the Young Life staff for 25 years. Fil and his wife Lucie live in Greensboro, NC and are parents of 3 adult children. He is the author of Running on Empty: Contemplative Spirituality for Overachievers and Breaking the Rules: Trading Performance for Intimacy with God.