I have deep admiration and respect for those who commit to religious community. There is an order and flow found in a monastery or convent, which is distinct from the many distractions I daily encounter. A deep part of me desires to be in such a setting. However, I am where God has placed me. How can I experience a monastic order in the middle of my chaos?
The most significant vow a Benedictine monk makes is a vow of stability. That vow is the relinquishment of anything which does not give primacy to God and the work of His kingdom. Stability is the spiritual foundation for all other vows. Without that commitment, all other vows will lack focus, meaning, and purpose.
The Rule of St. Benedict is centered in a commitment to love. It is a love of God, a love of others, and a love of service to community. The rule focuses on people rather than a building. It is a faithfulness to remain present to God, which increases my capacity to remain present to others and myself. It is the capacity to be faithful in the moment, be it on a spiritual mountain top or in the dark depths of the valley. Don’t you desire to have the capacity to live your life in such a manner?
Stability with God means that every aspect of my life is associated with God’s kingdom. That stability exists regardless of where I live or what I am doing. That may sound like I have to walk around with a halo on my head constantly! It simply means that every aspect of my life has a kingdom purpose. It means that even the act of simply brushing my teeth has some form of spiritual significance.
For us, as Christians, nothing is secular, but everything is sacred. Without that reality, I compartmentalize my life into “God moments” and “not God moments.” Doing so limits me becoming who God has called me to be. It limits my capacity to have spiritual engagement with God in every aspect of my life.
Living in a religious order is embracing a routine of both monotony and holy encounters. The underlying commitment to stability lessens the capacity to flee when things are boring or difficult. I have divine objectivity (seeing with God’s eyes) that every part of my life images God. I bring the fragrance of Jesus in every situation, whether I am washing dishes, experiencing pain, or praying for someone.
A vow of stability with God brings greater meaning to my life. I can experience peace in my circumstances, realizing God’s kingdom purposes are somehow being worked both in me and in others. Freedom arises from the reality that everything is working for my good as I remain and abide in Jesus. Just as Jesus was about His Father’s work, so are we in every circumstance.
Have you reflected on what it means to be committed to God? Ask Him! Ask how that commitment impacts you, the ones you love, and those in the community around you. God asks me to love Him with my whole heart, but I know much remains in my heart needing His healing touch. Even so, my deepest desire, which He has given to all of us, is to know Him. I want to make a vow of stability, which will cause a God-awareness in every part of my life.
Will you join me?