When I was in college, I spent a summer serving on a mission trip called the Denver Urban Project. A group of us spent the summer living and working in Denver’s inner-city, living with members of a local church and helping the community.

While my peers spent their summer traveling, partying or working jobs, I dedicated mine to cleaning parks, repairing churches and feeding some of the poorest members in the community. It was a great experience. I enjoyed making a difference in my hometown and meeting some great people I would never have known otherwise. 

I also viewed that summer experience as a sacrifice. I got up early each day, slept on floors or uncomfortable couches and gave up good meals and eating at restaurants. It was not as intense as an overseas mission trip, but I shared many of the discomforts that can come with it.

At the end of the summer, the pastor of the church gave me a gift to express his gratitude. I unwrapped the gift to find it was the book Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster.  “Sort of an odd book to give someone,” I thought as I opened it. Inside I found an inscription. I’m paraphrasing a bit here but essentially the note read something along the lines of “Discipline is hard. Good luck. Someday you may make it.”

I was more than a little put off by the gift. After all, I had just spent my entire summer sacrificing and serving. “I am disciplined,” I thought. “I don’t need this book. I’ve got it figured out.” And the book went on my shelf where it sat giving me a sour taste in my mouth whenever I looked at it.

Of course, I don’t have it all figured out, and the pastor was merely trying to be helpful by giving me a very practical book. However, in my teenage hubris, I think I had the reaction to spiritual disciplines that many people have their entire lives.

Human nature bucks at the implication that we need discipline of any form. Just the title of Foster’s book is an oxymoron. Who celebrates discipline? However, the subtitle of the book which I overlooked is The Path to Spiritual Growth. That is something we all want but sometimes are not willing to work for.

The pastor’s inscription to me in the book also said that developing spiritual disciplines requires dealing with the inner self, which is “not an easy task, but rewarding.”

I’m happy to say in light of this sermon series I am now re-reading Foster’s book in its entirety. My excitement over this series goes beyond just Foster’s book, but also into the challenges set forth by the sermons and study guide each week.

I invite you to join me in celebrating spiritual disciplines. It may be uncomfortable at times, but it leads to spiritual growth and a closer relationship with Jesus.

David Young has been a member of Faith for five years. He is a public relations communication specialist with a background in journalism, and he serves on Faith’s writing team. He loves creative writing and being able to share captivating stories with the church.

David is a Colorado native who enjoys climbing Colorado’s 14ers, fly fishing, backpacking and mountain biking.

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