Scripture is full of description about the character of God...
God is love. 1 John 4:8
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. James 1:17
God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness Gal 5:22
He is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. Ps 18:30
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:7
God is good and does good. Ps. 119:68
I list all of this because it is a different refrain than what we hear on the nightly news. Part of faith is in making the choice to believe and in learning to walk in this unseen world of goodness, love and light. (I also believe that part of our role as believers is to help heal the world by bringing these qualities of God not only into our experience but also into the world we live in.)
Over time, I've learned that there are certain practices that help me more clearly experience the character of God and other practices that dim it.
Practices that enhance
- Daily prayer and meditation.
- Spending time in nature.
- Practicing gratitude.
- Focusing my mind on spiritual things.
- Hanging out with people who pursue God.
Practices that dim
- Watching scary or violent movies.
- Not taking care of myself with rest, exercise and eating right.
- Indulging my ego.
- Unconfessed sin.
It occurs to me that there are reasons that monks and others who formally devote their lives to God have very structured practices in their daily lives, and that is because the practices matter. Not because they earn some sort of heavenly brownie points, but because they enhance our ability to see the spiritual world that often gets eclipsed by our physical experience and that they help us maintain our connection to beauty and goodness.
Practices are mundane. And many times they don't seem that important. But somehow incrementally and cumulatively over time they create a huge difference not only in our experience, but also in who we become.