I’ve spent most of my life believing that Christianity is something you do. That in order to please God you have to be good enough. You have to follow the rules and meet with God every day in a certain way. And for years, that’s what I did. I paid attention to what other mature Christians were doing and I followed their example.
My dad used a reading plan and read three chapters in the Bible every morning before work.
One of my pastors spent a season fasting every Tuesday.
Fellow church members stood and their lifted hands during worship.
I did everything I was shown and told to do. But these last several years those habits and disciplines I had developed started feeling like a burden. Anxiety started bullying my time with the Lord because what if I didn’t read the right thing or didn’t spend enough time and missed something.
What if I did this all wrong?
I had come to believe that there was a certain way to connect with God and if I didn’t find the right way, I was a goner and God wouldn’t show up. But I knew that just wasn’t true. Because when I was able to push past the anxiety, and when I could hear God’s voice louder than my fear, I knew God to be good and loving. I knew in my gut that all of this Christianity stuff was never meant to be solely about the disciplines.
It was meant to be about God.
About simply being with him however that “being” looked.
So I let go of some things. I stopped some disciplines completely and allowed God to tweak others to fit my personality and our relationship. I gave up, I added, I tried and experimented. And over time God showed me a new model–or rather a state of heart, through which he desired to meet with me.
He invited me to be beautifully devoted.
What is “beautifully devoted”?
The word devoted means to be committed to something, to be faithful and steadfast. It’s a word you’ll find I use a lot around here because it’s a word that is focused on relationship.
When you’re devoted to something, that thing or person becomes your priority. You intentionally make space and time to show up. Nothing else matters as much as that thing.
Devoted is what God desires of us.
He simply wants us to show up.
In John 15 Jesus gives his disciples the image that he is the vine and they are the branches, and he invites them to abide in him.
Abiding means to stay, to remain, to dwell.
When you look at a vine, literally the only job of a branch is to hold on, to stay attached. The vine does the rest of the work, absorbing the nutrients through the soil and giving it to the branches so that they can bear fruit.
We are the branches and Jesus is the vine, and all he asks of us is to abide, to remain, to live devoted and committed and simply being with him.
And when we do that–when we just show up every day and do life with Jesus, when we live devoted to him and make him our top priority, our safe place and our person we go to no matter what is happening–that is a beautiful thing.
Some of the people I most admire in this life are those who I know are devoted to God. Their lives, the way they spend their time, the way they act and speak and love all are proof of that. They live obediently to him and are committed to go wherever he leads, to be wherever he is, to do whatever he asks. Not out of obligation or expectation, but out of devoted love. And there is nothing more beautiful.
How do you live beautifully devoted?
Living beautifully devoted is far easier than we tend to make the Christian life. Remember, God just wants us to show up and abide. But because I’m a practical person and I like knowing what that kind of thing looks like in the physical world, here are three ways to live a beautifully devoted life:
1. Do life with God. In the same way you do life with the people around you (and by doing life, I mean spending time together, investing in each other’s lives, being part of each other’s daily and weekly stories) God invites us to do the same with him.
Doing life with God means we are aware of him and his constant presence all the time. It means we come to him throughout the day to share and celebrate and grieve. It means we take the time to listen to what he has to say too because this relationship is not meant to be all take on our end. We should be giving him our praise, our attention, our silence too.
2. Practice the spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are the habits, routines, and activities that provide an avenue to relate to God. They can be a burden when we view them as things we have to do in order for God to be happy with us. But that is not how someone who is beautifully devoted views spiritual disciplines.
Disciplines such as Bible reading, prayer, fasting, service, silence, stillness, sabbath all give us physical ways of connecting with God. They are not things assigned for us to complete or perfect. Spiritual disciplines are things for us to practice and grow in.
How we use these disciplines to connect with God can be ever shifting, moving, and changing because they are also things God invites us into. We are not the only ones who get to choose how we connect with God. Part of living beautifully devoted means we leave space for God to show us how he wants to connect with us too.
3. Share Jesus with others. Our relationship with the Lord was never meant to be one we keep to ourselves. Instead, we’re commissioned to go out and share his love and grace with others. As we spend time devoted to him, we are filled up and we come to know him better, so that we can invite others into relationship with him too.
To help you with this part, I’ve created the Beautifully Devoted t-shirt. This shirt can help you spread the beautifully devoted message. As you wear it and people ask you what it means, you not only get to tell them about the God you are devoted to, but the God who is devoted to them.
Because this devotion works both ways. God invites us to be beautifully devoted to him, but he’s also devoted to us and has been since the beginning of time.
God desires that each one of us be in relationship with him, and no matter how far we stray or how many times we mess up, he is devoted to loving us, inviting us closer, and making us more like him.
If you need a reminder of this kind of devotion or you want to help spread this message, Beautifully Devoted shirts are available for limited time. Your purchase of a shirt will also help fund the production of my first published Bible study coming fall 2019!
And if you want to keep up to date on the Bible study and maybe even help launch it into the world, make sure you’re on my email list.
Live in his love!