As the sun rose on Easter Sunday, 2003, I was baptized by my pastor in the ocean on Miami Beach. I was 26 and there was no denying the overwhelming love of the Holy Spirit that had soaked into my heart. It filled me with a glowing, almost unbearable joy and feeling of connection with God. Spiritual Formation is how I actively maintain and grow that “first love.” It is how I can participate in that love through my relationship with God and others.
Spiritual Formation takes many different forms throughout our lives. At First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale, my own journey in Spiritual Formation has meant participating in or facilitating different classes and groups at different seasons in my life, depending on where God was leading me. If you had told me five years ago when I joined First Pres that God’s wonder would be revealed to me in teaching a Sunday School lesson to a three-year-old, or that I would have the honor of serving on the Pastor Nominating Committee, or that I would be a foster mother to many children, I would have laughed in your face—and that is why Spiritual Formation is vital. It takes us places we could never dream of; it’s an adventure to last a lifetime.
I wanted to give you one example of what Spiritual Formation looks like for me at this point in my life. In the face of all the holy mystery of God, my faith is strengthened when I keep coming back to the fundamental ways God shows His love for us. So it’s only natural that you would find me teaching Sunday School for the last five years to the three- and four-year-olds. My job is to allow God to work through me so He can get some of that infinite love and truth and mystery to absorb into those little souls who are the future of our church.
Last month, our memory verse in Sunday School was, “I can do everything by the power of Christ.” Philippians 4:13. Each lesson for a three-year-old can’t last more than five minutes or they will just wander off. So every Sunday, we use a curriculum that has at least five different five-minute lessons that illustrate the verse. Through snacks, crafts, blocks, hopscotch, making slime, playing with beach balls, singing, dancing, Bible stories, and so much more, the elemental lesson we learned was that God gives us the power to do everything. You can ask any of my three- and four-year-olds, “Who gives you the power to do everything?” and they will tell you without hesitation that it’s God!
Now: it’s one thing to learn something, but to truly know it, to feel it in your heart, and then set out to change the way you live your life based upon the knowing? That takes work. When I invite my class to join me in the adventure of Spiritual Formation, their joy in learning about God’s love strengthens my own faith, and so the cycle begins again. I am being actively transformed into a new kind of human being, one who reflects the image of Christ.
Through Spiritual Formation, my life has changed forever.
Reality Changing Observations:
1. What does Spiritual Formation look like for you right now?
2. How would you describe your own spiritual growth throughout your life?
3. How has Spiritual Formation changed your life?