"I don't feel at peace." "I don't love the people in my life the way I want to love them." "I'm captivated by things that aren't satisfying me." If that's you, you're not alone. In order for us to experience the life that God longs for us to experience, we need to lean into the practices that allow us to become more like Jesus.
Consider Jesus's words in John Chapter 15: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." What is Jesus telling us in this passage? Stay close to me. Abide in me and you will grow. The overarching idea couldn't be more clear: life is broken and fruitless without connection to the Giver of life.
It's actually a very simple model of spiritual formation: we grow and mature as Christ-followers when we remain in Him. The key question is, "how?" How can we slow down our lives and live with Jesus? There is an ancient practice called a "Rule of Life" can help us experience peace and lead us on a path toward spiritual thriving with God.
A Rule of Life is a set of scheduled practices and relational rhythms that create space for us to be with Jesus and become more like Jesus (definition adapted from author John Mark Comer). It's important to note that a Rule of Life is not the same as "rules" for life. Unlike rules or laws, a Rule of Life is not based on guilt or shame. It can be evaluated and re-shaped over time. You may fail at it often - and that's okay. It's all part of the process.
A good place to start your Rule of Life is by taking an audit of your habits. Write down what you did this past week. Where did your time go? What do you want to prioritize, and what do you want to let go? Then make a separate list of habits that are important to you, or those you would like to start including in your life on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. There's no right answer on what to include, though there are some best practices that would benefit anyone (morning prayer, church on Sunday).
A best practice is to start small and specific. A Rule of Life that is too big or too aspirational is usually not doable in the long term. Take into account your season of life (do you have young kids?), your personality (are you an introvert or an extrovert?) and your stage of discipleship. What are the things that you enjoy and come naturally to you versus the things that target the areas where you need growth? Make sure your Rule is holistic. Include practices that feed your mind, your body, and your soul.
Above all, don't forget to prioritize rest for yourself. The end goal is not to pack your life full of disciplines. It's to become more like Jesus - more loving, more peaceful, more generous, more patient and more kind.
For further study:
Listen to Pastor Stephen Sharkey's sermon, Rule of Life.
Read and fill out your own Rule of Life chart with guidance from Practicing the Way and Bridgetown Church.