I can’t believe I haven’t read this classic before, but I am really enjoying Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster. In no way does Mr. Foster suggest that we earn our reward or way to heaven by our actions and self discipline. In fact, he honestly tells of his own spiritual fall. His thinking he could do it on his own was at the root of his “spiritual desert”. Worshiping self will and self discipline can easily become an idol. Look no further than the Pharisees to know this truth. So with that warning stated, he notes that those he knew who understood and practiced the disciplines seemed to have a deeper, unshakeable faith based on the Rock. The disciplines were so common in Jesus’s day, that they didn’t need much instruction in them—they were simply a part of their relationship with God–tools to grow their faith. We’ve forsaken these practices so much that we hardly know where to begin when the Bible says, “fast and pray” or warns against mammon (worldly wealth.)
I am reading the chapter on simplicity, and it so speaks to my heart right now as we go through my mother’s home and sort through everything. My mother lived very simply, and she left little to clean up. She used well what she had and took good care of things so they lasted. She lived this principle without any thought of slight. In fact, she knew her treasures and often told us about them. One time near the end of her life, she made the strangest comment. She sat right across from me and stated as a matter of fact with her body ravaged with cancer, “Well, at least I have my health.” I just smiled and shook my head at the thought again. But she was so right. She knew that she was able to get up that day, get dressed and go to the grocery store with me, and she knew that was enough to say she had her health. She knew that her children were her legacy here on earth. She knew her Lord was her Treasure to look forward to in heaven. Nothing else could possibly be that important. Jesus had it right when he warned against storing up things that rust and moth destroy. He knew that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Just plain practical advice for those of us who are so bought in (no pun intended) to the materialism of our day. We are truly slaves to the things we accumulate. So much work and maintenance and distraction is involved in keeping things together and in order. Today, planned obsolescence makes us go buy newer, bigger, better, when the one we have (of whatever) would have been just fine. As I write this, I grieve for my own guilt in this and for my loss. Ironically, it is in gaining all of this stuff that we lose an important part of ourselves–our ability and the time it takes to focus on what truly is important. My heart craves to be simple again; to go back to the day when enough was enough.