Listenings: Spiritual Life in the Whirlwind

Evelyn Underhill’s fifth question and response deals with how to have an authentic spiritual life in the midst of unceasing activity, busyness, etc.  So many were saying that they found no opportunities to cultivate their relationship with God.  We can only imagine how she might view this nearly 90 years later!

She began her response by saying that the saints of the ages did not live as leisurely as we often think.  We actually caricature them and imagine that they had all the time in the world to devote to God.  But a closer and realistic reading of their lives shows that they faced the same time-management issues that we do.

As I have read the lives of the saints, I have discovered that Underhill is correct.

And then she wrote, “what is asked of us is not necessarily a great deal of time devoted to what we regard as spiritual things, but the constant offering of our wills to God, so that the practical duties which fill most of our days can become part of His order and be given spiritual worth” (p. 131-132).

The spiritual life is, at the root, a conscious life.  As Henri Nouwen has put it, a life in which nothing is thought, said, or done apart from God.

The Puritans had a phrase for it: “every moment is a God moment.”  Existentially, that’s true regardless.  But it only becomes true spiritually when we devote these moments to God.  It’s part of the Romans 12:1 experience.

Some of the saints (including John Wesley) actually trained themselves to enter into each new moment with a spirit which offered that experience or event to God.  For example, John Wesley entered into new moments asking, “How can I use this time to bring glory to God?”

Immediately, the spiritual life is “everywhere” and it includes “everything.”  And ironically, we do not have to find the time for a spiritual life; the time finds us!  And in this way, the whole of life becomes devotional.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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4 Responses to Listenings: Spiritual Life in the Whirlwind

  1. Sue Brady says:

    This is so true Steve, the spiritual life is always there, we don’t have to look for it if we have faith and believe. It’s really as simple as that. Thanks for the reminder though.

  2. Michael Sanders says:

    Thanks Steve for this important word – I truly needed it!!

  3. jolhowell says:

    There was not a more appropriate time for me for this to be posted! I will enter this new week asking with John Wesley, “How can I use this time to bring glory to God?”

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