An Honest Appraisal

Okay.  I admit it.  I’m a structured kind of guy.  I like discipline.  I like to keep my inbox empty and my text messages managed.  When I get notifications on my phone, I love to clear them and watch the red dot magically disappear on my home screen.  Pure satisfaction.


Call me boring, but I think there is something to St. Benedict’s “Rule of Life.”  Don’t think legalism, think roadway to get you from Point A to Point B.  The word rule comes from the Latin, regula, which literally means “a straight piece of wood,” (think: ruler), but it also references a trellis.  


For those non-wine connoisseurs (like me), a trellis is a structure to hold up vines, so they can grow and bear fruit.  Remember Jesus’ teaching in John 15 on abiding in the vine?  This is one of His most important messages on spiritual and emotional health.  Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in Him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, ESV).


To abide in Jesus, however, requires a trellis, a structure, a set of practices around a schedule that sets up abiding as the central pursuit of our lives.  This is a roadway to organize our lives around the practice and presence of God (Brother Lawrence).  


If a vine doesn’t have a trellis, it will wither and die.  If our relationship with Jesus doesn’t have some kind of structure to facilitate remaining in Him, it will dry up and wilt away.  


If this is an area where you struggle, join the club.  We all find ourselves too busy to follow a regimented “rule” of life to draw closer to Jesus.  


The truth of the matter is that we actually do have the time; we just need to reorder it.  We need to take a hard look at the rule of life we currently follow and make some adjustments.  As one author put it, “We just have to reallocate our time to `seek first the kingdom of God,’ and not the kingdom of entertainment” (Comer, 96). 


Ouch.  


No guilt trip intended.  No shame.  Just an honest appraisal.


So, what can we do?  Start small.  Take the time to assess how you spend your time.  Try this.  Every night when you sit down to binge watch your favorite series on Netflix, write down how much time was spent.  One hour?  Two?  Three?  Do that every day for one week and add up the number of hours you spent in front of the big screen, computer screen, or mobile screen.  


Baby steps.  Right?  How about if you start building your trellis by shifting 10% of that weekly time in entertainment to time in prayer, in lectio divina (“divine reading”—meditatively reading Scripture), or practicing silence and solitude?


Following Jesus is more than an idea; it’s a practice, and if we’re going to stay connected to the Vine, we need a trellis to help.  Maybe A Rule of Life isn’t so boring after all.