Sunday Ponderings: A Sustainable Life

We just finished a 3-month sermon series on "Rhythm: Riffs on sustainable living". Each week, the topic of the sermon was about a practice in our life that makes Life unsustainable, and a spiritual practice to adopt to make life sustainable. Here's a list of the topics covered:
  • Pray through the "low grade fever of sadness": From personal tragedies or hardships or just watching the evening news & seeing all that is wrong with the world, it is easy to get overwhelmed with sadness and hopelessness. Learning to pray God-focused prayers of lament, thanksgiving, and resolve during the good times will make it a natural outpouring during the sad times, leaving us better to prepared to turn to God when things get hard. Scriptures we looked at included some Psalms and Jonah.
  • Seek out community: This was one of the most talked-about services of the series. Being estranged from relationships, or surrounded by just shallow relationships is not a sustainable way to live. We need "macro, micro, and nano communities"- a church body, a "community group"- a close group of spiritual friends who are invested in your life, and mentors- people ahead of you or alongside you in life who will be very invested and not afraid to speak into your life. I talked a little about the importance of community earlier.
  • Engage in spiritual disciplines: I covered this last week.
  • Live with humility: I think we missed this week. I didn't remember this topic. It makes sense, though. A prideful life is probably full of lies, and not one that can be kept up for very long. It is more exhausting to be prideful than to be humble.
  • Discover your calling: This was the other most-talked-about topic of the series. It really re-framed "calling" for me, and I appreciated it. A calling is not an occupation. That was the surprising part for me. First, we're called to follow Jesus. Where our passions, gifts, and talents alig, we'll find our calling. Our pastor believes that a person's calling will always result in one of three ends: the care and love of people, the praise and glory of God, or the pursuit of justice.
  • Live virtuously: This one is pretty self-explanatory. A life of sin is a hard one to keep up, always having to run from the consequences. Pursuing righteousness makes or a more sustainable life.
  • Create family hedges: Protecting your family by being committed to Security, Fidelity, Forgiveness & Time (both quality AND quantity) will make your family sustainable and secure. These aren't things that Josh & I struggle with right now, but I know from experience that life will only get busier and more complex, and we will have to fight to keep family time sacred.
  • Nourish & protect your body: This was the topic the weekend we moved, so we missed this one. The gist seemed to be, pursuing eating, exercising, and resting as a spiritual discipline- taking care of our health as we would any God-given resource to care for. The point was made- we should pursue "health" not a "look"- the point isn't vanity. I think this is a hard one to mention in church (or, I don't hear it mentioned very often) but makes sense.
And why pursue a sustainable life? Sure, there's your own sense of well being, and there's the impact on those around you (a well-rested, un-stressed me is much nicer to be around, and probably reflects the love of God better) but there's a bigger, moral responsibility, too. When we fritter our lives away, the rest of the world suffers to some degree. I'm in a very rich country, blessed like crazy- and if I live a shallow, stressed, me-focused life, I am not "living to the full" and using the resources entrusted to me for God's kingdom most effectively. I'm ignoring, or at least not best-serving, the poor and marginalized, and I'm failing God, who is entrusting the care of his world and the spreading of his message to his people. I can do better.

What are my take-aways? I discussed most of them last week. I need to have Sabbath and Simplicity in my life. I need to continue to prioritize Community. I need to learn to see where God is working and get in line with it. I'm looking forward to Sojourn's Christmas series starting next week, "A Christmas Sabbath". I really appreciated the worship experience last year, and all the talk about a "sustainable life" right before the busiest season of the year was very necessary. I look forward to the worship space provided in Sojourn during the next month or so.

What do you need to do to obtain a "sustainable life" or pace in your life? What's the biggest hurdle to sustainability in your life?

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