The longer I live the more I am convinced of three important and interconnected keys to a healthy spiritual life:
First, the intentional cultivation of the “center” of one’s own Christian existence. Our first responsibility is to tend to our inner life in God. This is a private matter that cannot be faked. Sooner or later your hidden life will manifest itself openly. We MUST abide (or dwell) in Christ. The business and distractions of this world press in, but you dare not neglect the care of your own soul. If you must, leave everything else undone but this: cultivate your true identity, your life in God.
Second, a long, patient, and persistent faithfulness. This does not imply spiritual perfection, just the opposite: it is a Spirit-enabled commitment to a life of repentance and faith. How much time is lost, how much joy missed, how many opportunities overlooked, because in discouragement at our own failures we neglect repentance and faith – the very signs of the in-breaking of Christ’s kingdom! There are no shortcuts to Christian spiritual maturity; it comes from a long faithfulness through the ups and down, the trials and blessings of life. So, friend, get up and keep going!
Finally, (and all three are needed, like the three legs of a stool), find a way to serve others. The more you cultivate your spiritual center in God, and the more you conform to Christ by His Spirit, the more you will imitate God’s own life – which is others oriented. The inner life of God is self-surpassing. God’s heart is revealed in the incarnation and the self-sacrificial way of the cross. Enough of self-centeredness! Participate in and serve the community around you. It is not about “me.” Well, one should not pretend to deny one’s own reality. Let’s put it this way: it IS about “me,” but our best “me” is “me” for others. Are you discouraged today? In your weakness, find someone to serve.
So here are the three important ingredients to a healthy spiritual life: look in and cultivate your life in God, look up to Christ and keep following Him despite any failures (his way is easy and his burden light), and look outward to a hurting world, God may want to meet someone’s need through you.
Press on, dear brothers and sisters.