Nine years ago my career was booming. In ministry speak, I would say God was leading me to new and unique opportunities to serve him more broadly. I had just accepted a leadership position at a mega church of 20,000 people and was thrilled with my new found confidence and opportunities.
Within a year I was beginning to run down, so logically I ramped up my responsibilities and began to toy around with the idea of an even bigger leadership role. At the same time, by the grace of God, I began to enter into what would become a relationship with my spiritual director.
Shortly thereafter I started to suffer from spiritual apathy which either caused or was the effect of spiritual atrophy. By year two in the mega church and with my resume significantly bolstered I sought change to satisfy. I moved our family cross-country again seeking a new pastoral role in rapidly changing church. Since my first introduction to the idea of a spiritual director, that relationship has functioned as a type of spiritual tether in my life.
Up the road in Irvine you can find The Great Park. In this huge park is a giant balloon. This balloon is very unique. It is one of the largest helium balloons in the US at 118 feet tall with a gondola which can hold up to 30 passengers. The balloon itself holds 210,000 cubic feet of helium and remains tethered to the ground by a steel cable with the breaking strength of 99,000 pounds.
I believe that my spiritual director plays the same role as that steel cable. He is a tether.
The older and wiser I get, the less I am prone to lifting off and floating away with my own grandiose plans or ideas, I’m very aware of the tether. Sometimes I forget and get a sudden “jerk” on the line that reminds me to keep perspective. Other times it is almost as if he is less of a steel cable and more of a rigid pole lifting me higher and closer God. Wherever the metaphor falls apart, I know this…I tethered in love and God is growing spiritual fruit in me as I share my journey with my spiritual director.
So many assumptions exist about spiritual direction as it rises to the surface of evangelicalism. For me it’s always been as simple as seeking God together with an older and wiser man who loves Jesus and loves me. I’ve known my spiritual director now for many years and one very unique component is we conduct our times together over the phone as we live in two different states. It is very effective. We have done this now for almost 10 years and both of us have moved to different states.
Today I’m stripping away the assumptions of how I relate to Jesus, I’m seeking a day-to-day connection with God that is new and fresh and unlike any other day; because it is today! As I continue choosing to be tethered, I’ve found what it is to be loved and to deeply love, what it looks like to fail and succeed and how to live in the extraordinary ordinary of each day.