I got some great news this past week-- I was accepted into the 2 year Academy for Spiritual Formation's upcoming bilingual academy that starts this summer. I have written about this before, so I thought I would update my blog to let readers know that I have been accepted. I'm excited and looking forward to it. I'm also having to let go and trust God with details.
The Upper Room sponsors 5 day and 2 year Academies for Spiritual Formation. The days include worship, silence, solitude, teaching, accountability/covenant groups, free time, meals, rest. In the 2 year Academy you are with your group for the entire 2 years. The first year of learning is focused inward, and the 2nd year is focused outward. This is my simplified explanation. For more information on the Upper Room's Academies, you can check out their website: http://www.upperroom.org/academy/
A few weeks back I tested for the 1st degree level one probationary black belt. I made it. I am excited, though I think testing for the senior red was a bigger step for me since it had been an entire year since I had last tested. Now I'm in the process of learning a new form. And, I'm still trying to get my head around E-CAS (Elite Counter Aggression Skills). For me to figure out what I can and cannot do without hurting my frozen shoulders is a challenge mentally and physically. I don't know how long it will take me to prepare to test for my decided black belt, but it is about the journey, not the destination.
My seminary classes are going well. I am reading some good, yet challenging, books this semester for my classes. The class discussion is proving to be insightful and challenging as well. I am enjoying being back in this environment.
We started a new book in Sunday School this week: The Life You've Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People by John Ortberg. I can tell by the first chapter I'm going to enjoy this book. Okay, I'll be more honest-- I could have told you from the title that I would like this book. (Plus I've read another one of his books.)
I am reminded in the first chapter that "the primary goal of spiritual life is human transformation." (21) Transformation... that word just keeps coming up.
A thought floating around in my head at the moment: It is not easy to remain the same after we have encountered the life-changing, life-giving love of our Creator. Ideally, we would not remain the same, we would change. Yet, sometimes change is too hard for us to journey into or risk. It requires trust.
Trust was part of today's sermon theme as well. "Letting go". Letting God take all the burdens and worries. There were a couple of clips shown from "Finding Nemo". Oh, how I love truth found in the ordinary. :) Dory, believing she understood whale language, relayed to Nemo's dad Marlin that the whale was telling them to "let go." Marlin wasn't buying that message and was hanging on for dear life. He asked Dory: "How do you know something bad isn't going to happen?" to which she replied, "I don't."
Dory and Marlin let go and were sucked into the water in the back of the whale's mouth and blown out the blow hole.... into freedom....into the ocean. For them, letting go meant being set free.
It's okay to let go. What is it that I need to let go? What is it that you need to let go? Am I willing? Are you willing?
Letting go of some things in order to pick up others. What is it that I need to pick up? What might you need to pick up?
One thing I'm learning and working right now is deepening my devotional life. Daily spending intentional and focused time reading, praying, listening, and sharing what I'm learning with others. Yet this is a life-long something. Something that can be deepened from this point onward until it is my time to journey from this place to the next. And, it's an every moment something. It isn't compartmentalized between my taekwondo self to my seminary student self to my mom self to my wife self to my friend self to my mentor self to my teacher self to my daughter self, etc. The thread of my being, at my very core, is who I am, no matter what role I am in at the moment. Ortberg puts it this way: "The truth is that the term spiritual life is simply a way of referring to one's life--every moment and facet of it--from God's perspective." (15)
I look forward to reading more of Ortberg (and sharing it). For now, I'll call it a "day" and get outside to enjoy the last few hours of daylight.
Desiring to live a cohesive life for the glory of the Kingdom as I journey step by step,