On the path of personal discipleship, self evaluation is an important discipline.
I use the sailboat metaphor to think about where I am. This new adaptation version has received a fresh coat of paint for use in my – almost finished (finally) – tome.
The Sailboat Metaphor (Adapted from: Keller, Prayer, 258-259.)
Am I Sailing?
Sailing is living the life of a disciple with the Spirit clearly filling my sails. I can feel the reality of God in my heart. I am aware of His presence. I see prayers answered. I can’t wait to get into the Scripture and when I do, I hear His voice speaking to me. He shows me through a variety of means that He is working in and through me to bless others. I can’t wait to meet with fellow disciples and give Him glory. It is easy to give Him all the glory. I am delighting in Him and through Him.
Am I Rowing?
Rowing means it is more a chore to sit down with God in the morning. I am being faithful to the disciplines of prayer and reading Scripture, but delight seems a memory. I’m wrestling with some doubts and fears and am running to Him and trying to be patient. Even though I know prayers are being answered, I’m not recognizing it. But, no matter what, I will not give up. When I catch myself feeling sorry for myself, I pray some scripture and press on. I’m redoubling my disciplines and letting my fellow disciples know I’m struggling. I may not quite feel it, but I know God is there.
Am I Drifting?
Just like rowing, I’m struggling with doubt and fear, but rather than being disciplined, I’ve just let go and have sat back in the boat. I’m not only feeling sorry for myself, but I’m keeping it to myself. I’ve slipped into behaviors that are harmful to me as I seek fulfilment, not in God, but in my job, food, sleep, TV, or whatever my favorite attempt at escape maybe. I’m in the shadows and I am complacent just sitting here ignoring God and my fellow disciples.
Am I Sinking?
I have drifted into the dark. I feel no forward motion in the Christian life. The indifference and doubt has become cynicism, about Scripture, my fellow disciples, even about God. My heart is more stone than flesh. I live in a swirl of self: pity, anger, unforgiveness, criticism and fear. I ignore calls from my fellow disciples. Were a tragic event to occur in my life right now, I might walk away from God altogether (in deed if not in word). My negligence has overshadowed my faith in God.
Don’t Go It Alone
It’s hard to be a disciple alone. Focus on God through prayer and His word. Meet regularly with fellow-disciples. No matter the circumstances, pray no matter what, keep the Scriptures open before you every morning and through the day, meet regularly with fellow-disciples. Row. Row even if your pulling the oars and all you see is fog. Just row. Discipline really does lead to delight, so row. Through His word, through prayer and through my fellow-disciples, God will remind me again. The Spirit will blow and I will begin to sail again.
But no matter what, row.