Dr. Sachi Nakamura（Christian Books Translator, Spiritual Director, JCFN Board Member)
Over half-a-year ago, I read an article in Christianity Today. The article featured a conversation between a woman doing her doctorate studies at Regent College in Canada and Eugene Peterson. The student had a new-born baby, and was feeling frustrated about being occupied and distracted by her baby whenever she tried to read the Bible. She asked Peterson if he could recommend any spiritual disciples for her to help her get out of her spiritual rut. Peterson asked her this question.
“Is there anything you are doing regularly every day without fail?”
She thought about it. One thing she could think of that she did many times a day was breastfeeding. When she told Peterson that, he replied,
“That is your spiritual disciple. From now on, pay close attention when you do what you are already doing. Be present.”
The student (now a pastor’s wife) reflected on that conversation and said this:
“I had a strong temptation to do something for Christ rather than to be in Christ.I was starting to see my daily responsibilities in the home as obstacles to living as a devout Christian. However, in reality, those were the exact places where God wanted to meet with me. Upon realizing that, my understanding of “submission to God” was expanded to include the simple act of “being in Christ (John 15).”
As I read that section of the article, I was reminded of the time when my daughter was battling cancer. Although I had just begun my courses for becoming a spiritual director, I was having to miss many classes. This is what my teacher told me.
“My heart feels so much compassion and care for you and your daughter, as well as your entire family. You are living life as it is, not as an interruption to a program. You are living what you are learning, that God is in the midst of every sacred moment of your life, and that of Miho’s. You need to put your attention there, and what is happening each day for her, and for you. ……
Do not worry about deadlines, papers, or anything. Let go of pressure to finish on time. What we are about is reflecting on how God is active in your real life, now. ….”
Taking care of my daughter battling cancer was quite far from what people would call as “daily life.” However, the point is that we need to realize that God is at work in the midst of our daily lives. We need to simply respond to Him from that place. It may be when each day seem monotonous and repetitive…. Or else, when you find yourself in the midst of suffering that totally alters your course of life. Whatever we are facing, we are called to live out our “daily lives” intentionally while remaining in Christ. We do not need to scramble to live the way we think we should be living. Rather, we need to discern what the Lord is inviting us into; the here and now.
As we respond to this invitation, many areas of your daily life may start to look differently. God may bring to light some of your habits, thoughts and response patterns that are distancing you from God or robbing intimacy with those around you. God may also lead you to incorporate new activities (disciplines) to help you draw closer to Him. At that time, my daily routine included making soup for my daughter in the morning. That became my prayer time. As I chopped vegetables and cooked them, I did them prayerfully as if I was offering them to God. By becoming more aware of God’s presence, each step of preparing the soup became acts of serving in the temple for me.
What are you facing in your “daily life”? What are some things you do routinely? Some of you may feel that you are too busy to find time to be quiet before God. Spiritual disciplines do not have to look very “spiritual.” Even your commute to work, whether in a crowded train, or through bad traffic on the freeway, can become your place of prayer, a monastery. As you take care of a baby, pick up your children from school, wash dishes, fold laundry, even engage in a difficult relationship with someone at work or school, those can all become opportunities to meet with God as long as you are remaining in Christ.
God invites us to start now, in the midst of our daily lives. Lord, please help us to respond to your invitation.