Have you ever taken the time to develop a ‘Rule of Life’? A rule of life can be simply defined as a collection of rules or guidelines for living that cover all aspects of life; the purpose is to help us keep our lives in balance. The idea for a Rule of Life began in the monastic tradition by St. Benedict.
A few years ago I was challenged to develop my own rule of life as part of a required course in pursuit of my degree. Part of the process was to retreat; find blocks of time and in the Spirit’s presence pay attention to my heart’s desires. Debra Farrington in her book, Living Faith Day by Day: How the Sacred Rules of Monastic Traditions Can Help You Live Spiritually in the Modern World, writes: “People frequently discover the real work that God intends for them by paying attention to the kinds of tasks or activities that seem to bring them into close contact with what is holy.” I confess that, since I was in my fifties, I thought this would be a ‘slam dunk’ as I had years of living and work to inform me. Boy, was I wrong. As I gave myself over to this task I discovered depths of relationship with God that I had never experienced before. Taking an honest look at oneself is seldom easy but to lay yourself bare before the Lord is life changing. (we all know this but…)
I want to share with you my Rule of Life and some background on its development. I hesitate to do this because first of all it is a very personal area of my life and second I don’t want the focus to be about me as if I were some kind of super saint. If I did not feel so strongly the Lord’s leading here I would not do it. As you read on please pay close attention to what the Lord is saying to you about your own spiritual journey as you read a bit of mine.
(I am only giving you an outline of my rule of life. In going through this process the Lord helped me put much ‘meat on the bone.’ The development of this/the process is an awesome journey.)
The all-consuming desire of my life is in knowing and loving God. The natural outcome of this desire is the aim to:
- Maintain relationships
- Develop my gifts and talents
- Maintain my calling
- Nurture a healthy lifestyle
The Scriptural foundation for my life is found in 1 Timothy 1:12, 14, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service….The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
Knowing and Loving God
My identity is informed and shaped by my knowledge and understanding of God. I want to build and nurture my relationship with Him through worship, prayer, Scripture, and communion.
My spiritual identity is informed by these Scriptures:
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Colossians 3:22b-23, “…with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
2 Timothy 1:12, “…I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. “
God created us to live in community. I want to demonstrate my love for God by honoring the relationships in which He has placed me. I desire to strengthen and deepen my relationship with my husband, my children and grandchildren, close friends and my fellow officers. I want to strive to build understanding and trusting relationships; I want to be an encourager that will help to bring out the best good in each person.
My primary reason to love and maintain relationships:
1 John 4:7, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”
1 John 4:10-12, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
1 John 4:16-17, “…God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.”
Developing and using my gift and talents
God has graciously gifted me through the Holy Spirit. I want to be effective and faithful in using these gifts to serve Him. I want Him to have free channel through which He can reach others, both the saved and the unsaved. I desire to be a relevant and vital witness of God’s amazing love and grace. I also desire to learn how to use my giftedness to serve and edify my part of the body of Christ, the community in which I live and if possible globally.
My scriptural reminder that perfection only comes at glorification:
Philippians 3:12-16, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”
Maintaining my calling
In working out my calling I will strive to pursue excellence in being . . .
…a faithful Officer
…an effective messenger of the Gospel,
…a servant leader
…an effective vessel that is empowered by the Holy Spirit.
…a teacher of the Word that models its transforming power
…an effective discipler
…a servant of the poor and needy by providing comfort and assistance in the Name of Christ
…a good and faithful steward of God’s monetary blessings
As a leader called out by God I have been entrusted to communicate His message.
1 Corinthians 2:6-10, “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”
Colossians 1:24-26, “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness- the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.”
If I am to be an effective servant for God I must be healthy and whole.
1 Peter 1:13-16, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Let me leave you with a part of The Rule of Taize (The Community of Taize is composed of more than one hundred brothers, from Catholic and Protestant traditions, who originate from about thirty countries across the world and founded in 1940 by Brother Roger Schütz, a Reformed Protestant.): “There are moments when the silence of God culminates in his creatures. In the solitude of a retreat, we are renewed by intimate meeting with Christ. These essential moments must therefore be set aside.”
Lord, grant me your peace,
for I have made peace
with what does not give peace,
and I am afraid.
Drive me deep, now,
to face myself so I may see
that what I truly need to fear is
my capacity to deceive
and willingness to be deceived,
my loving of things
and using of people,
my struggle for power
and shrinking of soul,
my addition to comfort
and sedation of conscience,
my readiness to criticize
and reluctance to create,
my clamor for privilege
and silence at injustice,
my seeking for security
and forsaking the kingdom.
Lord, grant me your peace.
Instill in me such fear of you
as will begin to make me wise,
and such quiet courage
as will enable me to begin
to make hope visible,
and myself open
to other people
and your kingdom.
(Ted Loder: Guerrillas of Grace; Prayers for the Battle)