Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Need A Cast on My Soul

Our generation, my generation, those of us who came of age in the 60's and 70's, have consistently cried out against the "oppression" of structures and formats. We shouted to all who would hear us (and to those who did not want to hear) "Don't tie me down, don't bind me with rules, don't control me with tradition, don't limit me with old fashioned morality" We demanded our freedom, and to a great extent, we got what we demanded.

One result of this rebellion against structure has been multiple generations of men and women with broken souls. And from those broken souls have come broken families, busted lives and wasted dreams - and a crippled society.

Now even professed followers of Jesus have a serious problem with structure. "Don't limit my worship with liturgy and creeds - I want to sing as the Spirit leads." "Don't expect me to follow a prescribed pattern of prayer or devotion. I want to read as I feel led, and pray in my own words." "Don't bother me with old theology - I want to just experience God not learn about Him." We have systematically thrown away the accumulated wisdom of the ages for the thin porridge of our own creativity.

Why can't we realize that saying such things is like telling someone with a broken leg "you don't need a cast on your leg - that would restrict your freedom to grow naturally." The result would be a weakened and crooked leg, unable to function properly or bear a full load. "You don't need a cast on your arm - it will bind you and limit you." The result will be an arm that never again can throw a baseball or hold a newborn baby. A cast is there to allow the broken bone to heal; and to heal straight and true according to the Divine pattern. A cast is there to protect the bone while it is healing, so that it will heal faster and be stronger than ever once the process is done.

The great saints have always known that God designed certain practices to be followed for the formation of our souls. They are known as the spiritual disciplines: regular prayer, Scripture reading and meditation, fasting, confession, solitude, fellowship and witness. We hate the word "discipline," like we hate the word medicine. How foolish we can be!

The practice of spiritual disciplines is like putting a cast on our broken places; for the healing of bruised and wounded souls and the formation of spiritual bones that are straight and strong. The more we buck against these loving restraints, the more unhealthy we become. The more we can submit, the sooner our disjointed bones can heal.

I need my soul in a cast, so that one day it will be formed to be and look like Jesus.