The Spiritual Discipline of Chaos pt. 1

I sometimes wonder why solitude and quiet are so highly revered in the Christian walk. I completely understand how a quiet place is a great way to hear the still small voice of God (1 Kings 19:12). Joshua Choomin Kang wrote, “ One of the obstacles to our spiritual growth is noise….How do our souls grow? Our souls thrive on silence”(2006, p. 106). I get this.

I know the priority of solitude was modeled in Jesus. Before calling his disciples, Jesus spent the night alone praying on a mountain (Luke 6:12-13). Jesus called his disciples to a quiet place to rest from the crowds and have space to eat (Mark 6:31-32). In fact, spending time alone in prayer was something He did regularly (Luke 5:16).

I also greatly respect how, in passionate pursuit of God, multiple generations of devotional writers were often led toward significant solitude and quiet. And so, the person pursuing a deeper walk with God will often model the spiritual disciplines of the desert fathers, decreasing the chaos in their life while spending more time in solitude and quiet. This pursuit has even informed how a Christian frames the daily time they spend with God, often calling it their quiet time. I agree with and appreciate these concepts.

But, then I look at my life. My wife and I are raising three small boys. My evenings are filled with the kid’s sports, homework, bath time, and often wrestling. On top of that there are meetings and groups and date nights with my wife. Sometimes when looking over our weekly schedule I’ll sarcastically joke with my wife, “Well, the good news is our life will only look like this for the next fourteen years.”

If solitude and quiet are the ideal way for the follower of Jesus to connect with Him, then I am destined for an inferior spiritual friendship for at least the next decade of my life! It’s true my wife and I could prioritize the pursuit of tranquility by disallowing our children to take part in sports while fleeing from all organizational connections ourselves. But, we believe life is best lived through experience and connection with others and so are determined to pursue balance in the midst of our weekly chaos, as opposed to outright retreat from those things.

So, I sometimes feel this great dissonance between the idealized spiritual life of solitude and silence I should be living with the chaotic life I am living. This constant discord can easily leave me feeling spiritually inadequate compared to those who have gone before; those living the contemplative and simple life I should one day live. 

But, then I take a look at the life of Jesus. Reading the life of Jesus has changed my perspective on what is holy living and the best places to meet God. I have a theory that we are mis-representing successful Christianity by over-emphasizing Jesus’ solitude while inadvertently criticizing the chaos of his ministry. I’ll finish this discussion next week as I examine what I found when I looking into the chaotic life of Jesus.

But, I’d like to ask you a few questions. How would you describe the ideal Christian life? If you were kicking butt spiritually, what would your life look like? Would you be doing more? Less? 

And, while on the subject how would you say you are doing spiritually? Looking forward to completing this discussion next week. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: This article is, in no way, a pass to passively or purposefully fill our lives with busyness or craziness over legitimate spiritual activity. The goal here is to find spiritual moments in the midst of the inherent craziness of raising small children. Check out this article from the Babylon Bee for satire on this subject

 As a helpful follow up to this blog, make sure to check out this post about our blind spots: How Blind Spots and Boogers Can Better Your Leadership

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