Developing a Rule of Life

Rule of Life, Part 1

I remember the first time I ran 3 miles straight. Jake and I had been dating for awhile, and since people do crazy things when they’re dating, I agreed to run with him. You know, because I wanted to be a runner (people in love are so stupid sometimes).

Before we met, Jake ran for the cross-country team at Mizzou. Let that sink in for a few seconds. Like I said, I was in love.

We spent a lot of time running the MKT trail. Some of our best conversations and our best fights happened on that trail. Especially as we were attempting higher mileage, Jake would get me talking about something that he knew would push my buttons so that I got my mind off of how far I was running.

Anyway, in high school I had run a mile, maybe 2, but I had for sure never run THREE.  When Jake casually announced we were going to attempt a three miler one cool fall day after classes, I was hesitant. I could NEVER do three. Three miles is what runners do. I’m not a runner. By the transitive property, I cannot run three miles.

Little did I know that years later, I’d be running a half marathon by myself just because I thought it’d be fun. Funny how things work out like that.

A month or so before I started training for the half-marathon, I asked my father-in-law (who is a marathon runner) to create a training plan for me. The plan began slow. I ran 3 days a week, 2-3 miles per day. These weeks were painful; my legs would feel noodley and my lungs would burn from the still-cool Wisconsin spring air. But as the weeks went on, my mileage rose, and so did my endurance. By the time the 13.1 miles came around, I was totally prepared because I had been did the long and slow work that my father-in-law designed.

Developing a rule of life is kind of like a half-marathon training plan. I wanted to be a person who ran, specifically who could run a half-marathon. So, I lived in a very intentional way to accomplish that- I stopped drinking as much soda, increased my water, stretched a lot more, and ran faithfully.Maybe we don’t want to be a runner, but we all have ideas of who we want to be.

  • We want to live justly by using our money that supports honest and fair companies.
  • We want to love our neighbors well.
  • We want to be generous with our time and money.
  • We want to be compassionate and kind, to everyone, but especially to our families.

There are a gazillion different things we may want for our life, but if we’re not living intentionally and making specific decisions, we find ourselves at mid-life (or later), confused about how we ended up in the place we’re in.

A rule of life is a set of guidelines we prayerfully set up to help us create space for God’s transforming work in our lives. It’s different from a self-improvement plan because we’re ultimately dependent on God to do the work in us. We’re simply creating spaces and habits that are conducive to hearing from God.

How do we do that?

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned from Ruth Haley Barton’s Sacred Rhythms. She gives great guidance and offers insightful questions we can ask ourselves as we’re figuring how who we want to be and how we want to live our lives.

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