For the last two years, much of my focus in prayer and thought has been soaked in the Beatitudes. Part of this is for a practical purpose. I am currently writing a book to be published in the Fall of 2021 by Fortress Press (working title: Jesus People: Communities Formed by the Beatitudes).
But more importantly, I have become convinced that the Beatitudes are, indeed, the lens through which we are called to live. They encapsulate Jesus’ entire life, ministry, teaching, death and resurrection. Each of us would do well to commit them to memory and prayerfully reflect upon them every day.
Because in the tumultuous storm that is currently raging throughout American society, the Beatitudes give us an anchor that enables us to offer a grounded, Christlike response.
I was sitting on the porch swing of a cabin at a campground near Eunice, Louisiana. It was my first 24-hour retreat since being in full-time vocational ministry. And it was long overdue.
I was a couple years into my current role as a Lead Pastor and feeling somewhat overwhelmed. I was beginning to feel a desperate need for something different in my spiritual practices.
So I spent some time at this campground for the singular purpose of meeting with God. On that sunny afternoon, I sat on that swing praying with my Bible, a small notebook, and a bag of Doritos (Not the fun-size, mind you. The family-size).
As I sat there chomping on those Doritos, I thought to myself, “It’s 2 o’clock. If I keep eating these Doritos, I’m not going to have any room for dinner.”
And just as clear as can be, a stream of thoughts began to flow through my mind. I began to realize that in order for my spiritual health to change, I had to first change my “spiritual diet.” Just as one’s food intake is limited by stomach space, my spiritual appetite is also finite. If all I do is consume the spiritual junk food of the environment around me, there is not enough space in my soul to crave (let alone receive) the true nourishment of God’s living presence.