On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39, ESV)
As we wrapped up our last class of the quarter, we reflected on what we had discussed. We had talked about Lent, to which most of my friends had never given a second thought, and how we might apply that in our non-liturgical forms. We had moved through several Christian discipline subjects (Meditation, Silence/Solitude, Prayer, and Study) after our initial discussion and challenged each other how we can deepen our relationship with Christ and know God more fully. We generally agreed that Meditation and Solitude are foundational to all the rest and are not an easy thing to accomplish. And today, as we summed it all up, my friend Jim made a fascinating observation.
We aren't required, or even capable, of doing anything to enhance our relationship with God. In choosing to pursue the disciplines, whether at the time of Lent or in some other way, the goal is not to give something up for temporal, human reasons (though there isn't anything wrong with that by any means). The goal is to lay aside what I think is important so I can hear and experience God. I need to, as Jim said, let the life He offers wash over me completely. Only in doing that can I deepen the experience God wants me to have and grow in the relationship. Much like Christ said in this passage from John, the result of this connection is not an increase in me, but in the Spirit flowing from God through me.
The Crooked Path offers many opportunities for learning and spiritual growth. I have been challenged, as were those in the class, to take every opportunity provided to move closer to God. He is the constant and has already provided what will suit me best. God is the single source for it all and I, in the end, contribute nothing except my obedience and a willing heart.