For the last month, I did 30 Days of Abiding. My intention was to create just a small bit of space to encounter God daily, and go deeper in my relationship with him. So each day I took time to go through the Daily Examen with God. Here are 7 things I learned as I did 30 days of the Daily Examen:
1. Doing anything for 30 days is difficult.
In all honesty, there were a few days when I either completely forgot about the Examen, or simply could not make space in the day. My daily life has a general flow to them, but there were a few circumstances that made it a challenge to do the Examen every day. For example, some nights we hosted people at our home, and I was unable to find the time or energy to do the Examen. This was a little frustrating. The perfectionist in me didn't like having days when I didn't accomplish what I had set out to do. But I also experienced moments of grace from God. Ultimately, I felt like despite the missed days, my heart was in a good place of wanting more union with God.
2. The Daily Examen is a wonderful pathway to connect with God.
I love how the Daily Examen deepened my awareness of my soul and God's presence. With each additional time of doing the Examen, I began to be more generally aware of how God was at work in my daily life. I began to expect to see God or hear God in the midst of typically mundane activities and moments. At night, when I did the Examen, I loved noticing how God had been speaking to my soul through my joys and sorrows.
3. Community is vital for my spiritual growth.
I really experienced the gift of community this month. I originally meant to simply do the 30 Days of Abiding on my own. But then I ended up inviting others along into it. We launched the Spiritual Journeyers Facebook Group, and many people in the community joined 30 Days of Abiding. Every day, people shared encouragement, prayer requests, and reflections throughout the 30 days. What a fun, encouraging thing it was to pursue a common desire for God with others!
4. Spiritual growth is a mysterious combination of me showing up and God doing his work.
I believe that my depth with God grew this month. I experienced new awareness of God, and a deeper contentment in my soul with him. Did I do a whole lot? On some level, yes. I showed up. I intentionally created more space in my daily life to turn toward God. But the true work in me ultimately happened because of God. His Spirit birthed in me a deeper desire for him, a deeper trust in his power and presence. Both of those things - me showing up and God showing up - create the environment for true spiritual growth.
It is the promise of Jesus in John 15: "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."
What have you learned as you've create space to connect with God in your daily life? Please share in the comments.
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Author: Larissa Marks
Larissa Marks is a spiritual director, ministry planter, writer, and Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Bluewater Mission Church in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her mission in life is to know God, and help others know him. She enjoys hanging out with her husband Steve and their three kids, drinking red wine, and hoarding books.