Try a New Path

The weather this year is unusually strange. Of course, I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know. In Oregon, we usually have a fairly warm, clear, sunny August. This year it is cool and oftentimes overcast. Last evening it was downright cold! Other places in the United States are being oppressed with unusually high heat. Weather patterns everywhere seem to be confused and changing. At least I’m confused. This certainly doesn’t feel like August.

We learn to depend on predictable patterns in our lives. We like to get in a familiar rut and just rattle down the road with no surprises. It is more comfortable that way. The problem with ruts is that you can get stuck in one. I’ve even noticed that some ruts go in circles! If your life and knowledge looks the same this year as it did last year, you are probably stuck in a rut.

The problem with ruts is that they take us to the same old places in the same old way and we do the same old thing over and over. In this mode of travel through life, you can turn off your brain and let others do the thinking. You just sort of keep pedaling away and produce the same product with your life—whatever that is.

In religion, being stuck in a rut is a dangerous thing. It leads to a formless, lifeless religion where dogma is the byproduct of treading down the rut—stuck in a worn groove of traditions and maxims. This eventually leads to bitterness towards God because we become enslaved in a Spirit-less system in the name of God.

Living a Spirit-filled life is the way out of any rut in which you are stuck. The Spirit is the force that brings us life, wisdom, vitality, and change. The Spirit is the Master Teacher and we all have access just by inviting the Spirit to live within us and be our teacher.

This opens up new learning opportunities and the possibility for many exciting changes in one’s life. But one has to make it a priority and commit to making space in one’s life for the Spirit to speak to you. Setting aside time for meditation and prayer—the essential element for communing with Spirit—is the necessary ingredient for having the Spirit be your teacher.

The Spirit speaks to us in the “still, small voice” and it is only when we quiet our thoughts and go within that we can listen to what God is wanting to teach us. Our hearing is dull and our eyesight is dim so that initially we don’t hear or see much. But when we are receptive to learning and ask that we be taught, we can be assured that the Spirit is doing the essential work of restoring our seeing and our hearing.

Many people give up on meditation and regular spiritual practice because at first it is difficult and feels foreign. It seems as if nothing different is happening at all. Sacred writings can seem dull and obtuse and meditation a true bore. But Jesus reminded us that spiritual things are spiritually discerned. If we have not developed the proper vehicles for listening to God’s Spirit, we can find it tedious to do so.

But to those who persevere, there are great rewards. There is a great story about the prophet Ezekiel who saw a vision about a valley filled with dead, dry bones. He was asked if these bones could live again. They suddenly came to life, growing flesh and muscles and started dancing in front of the prophet! Now that would get your attention!

As I read this, I am struck with how much like spiritual practice—Bible reading and meditation—this story is. At first, things can seem like a valley of dead, lifeless bones. But when you make a commitment to spending time with God, they come to life and literally start dancing before you with fresh new life. Things that at one time seemed irrelevant or dull now have hidden treasures and the power to change your life and your thinking.

The Spirit lifts us out of our ruts and places us on a beautiful path of continual growth and change. If you like your comfortable old rut, it will be scary at first, but you will never go back once you have tasted of the scrumptious fruits the Spirit has in store for your life.