“Your problem is not the first fifteen minutes of the day. It’s the next twenty-three hours and forty-five minutes. You must arrange your days so that you are experiencing total contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God.”
- Dallas Willard
When I arrived on the campus of Baylor University it was as if I were walking onto the surface of a new planet. I didn’t really have much experience with faith, that level of academia, or even the relationships or the kind of families I encountered.
I remember sitting in an IHOP near campus on the morning I was supposed to check into my dorm. I was there way too early (as was our family practice), sitting alone at a table with all my life’s possessions crammed into my Mazda a few feet away. I watched the restaurant fill up, booth by booth, with huge families. Two-parents, emotional and excited siblings, and even grandparents in some cases. There was lots of joy and lots of tears.
Not only was I on a new planet, but I was also an alien.
Outwardly, I mocked the spectacle of all of it. Seriously! We were eighteen years of age and didn’t need anyone to drive us to college, help us unpack, and tuck us into our dorm rooms. Right?
Inwardly, I was dying. I was very jealous. I wished I had that kind of relational grounding, that kind of tailwind propelling me into this next chapter of my life.
While I had left the destructive practices of my youth behind, I was still a product of a different world:
My hair was long.
My language was very salty.
My “Clash” and “Rush” was very different than their “Imperials".
My brain had been washed with life experiences that most of my fellow students had never known or probably knew existed.
They talked about finding a new church, finding a good bible study, listening to Amy Grant, setting appropriate boundaries with their girlfriends, and making sure they worked a good “quiet time into their routines.” What the hell was that?
But to me, it was life…a lifeline really. I could change my life by adopting all the disciplines and practices of the life I observed in them. While I found a new life, a new faith, and a new way to live, I also interpreted the rituals of the faith…as the faith. I spent the next couple of decades burying myself in a very legalistic expression of all the beauty, life, and freedom my new Christian faith said it offered.
It was crushing to me and pretty much anyone who encountered it, especially to my wife and kids.
But, I have been on a 17 year journey of restoration. I have broken free of legalism to find a life and faith far deeper than I imagined was possible. Christianity is not a governing philosophy, but an identity. The Christian life is not a set of rituals, practices, tip, and techniques, but a pervasive Kingdom worldview that governs every hour of every day.
I am comforted to know that God is less concerned about our 15 minute quiet times, but more concerned about how we spend the other 23 hours and 45 minutes of our days. That he cares less about our weekly attendance at religious services and more about the worship, sacrifice, relationships, and joy we operate with every other day.
I am finding life in Him and understanding how to live based on how He talked about His Kingdom. It has been a rescue that is allowing me the confidence and energy to rescue many others. It has changed my family, my leadership, and every conversation I have with every coaching client.
The life I thought I was buying into when I first believed in that college dorm, has been found. I am arranging my life so that I am experiencing total contentment, joy, and confidence in my everyday life with God. I am waking up to the glory and beauty all around me.
Where do you find the abundant life promised to us?
Do you find it in the practices and expressions of your faith or do you find it more elsewhere?
Are you so focused on getting the 15 minutes a day and the weekly practice right that you are missing out on experiencing total contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God?
What do you need to do next in order to recover that life?