If you remember, I finished my last post (here) with the assertion that the church is in position to restore what I call a y-axis reality. Borrowing the term “x-y axis,” we first learned in geometry.
The x-axis is, of course, the horizontal (time-bound/natural) plane. For our purposes, the x-axis represents a life lived and experienced on a horizontal playing field. On this horizontal playing field, all that you see is all that there is.
There is nothing, or no one, there.
Sociologists call this an immanent frame.
An immanent frame is, in the words of Charles Taylor, a way we perceive the world that “frames our lives entirely within a natural (rather than supernatural) frame.”
Life within this immanent frame unconsciously denies the reality of the supernatural.
The natural, time-bound, experience of life is all that’s left in life.
Most authorities on the subject agree: ours is an immanent frame!
We now live in an x-axis-only frame.
Our world is pretty much an x-axis world. By that, I mean that we only look out and rarely, if ever, look up.
And, while I believe in a y-axis reality, I am guilty of getting stuck in an x-axis-only mentality. Yes, I am often guilty of living like the world. At least in this way.
Living as if the only solutions available to me are ones I can see that are right in front of me, I look out but do not look up.
In other words, I live on the x-axis.
I want to live on the y-axis.
The y-axis is the vertical plane. It’s the “let’s look up again and dream a world shaped by the sacred, saturated with wonder, and soaked in awe” axis.
It’s the axis that points me to something, Someone, beyond what my eyes see.
In a world whose resources are limited, it just makes sense to be a y-axis person.
Y-Axis Problems in an X-Axis World
But I find it challenging to live on the Y-axis. It’s just too easy to get caught up in myself and my problems. When I do that, I tend to look to myself (and those around me) for solutions.
At times those solutions work out pretty well. Most often, however, the solutions are short-term solutions, and I find myself back – again – where I once was. This time around, a little more aggravated and far less patient.
The stress of returning to the problems takes its toll. Then, in dealing with anxiety, I begin to select options located within an x-axis-only frame. I ask questions like,
“Who caused this problem, and why is it not resolved yet?” Or,
“Whom can I blame for this?”
These x-axis-only questions deliver x-axis-only solutions. Again, I look to people, circumstances, and situations for the answers.
I am learning a harsh lesson: my default position, especially when dealing with tough situations or encountering intractable problems, is x-axis-only.
So, I wonder, “if I struggle with being a y-axis person, are there others who do as well?”
If so, then maybe there is a spiritual discipline or rhythm available to us that well help reorient ourselves to a y-axis reality.
Re-developing the Y-Axis Reality
Perhaps, over time and through practice, a y-axis response can be our default orientation!
Being a y-axis person is vital because the y-axis incorporates, and values the x-axis. The x-axis, conversely, is dismissive of the y-axis and ignorant of its existence!
In other words, when I live on the y-axis (the reality in which I am aware of and attentive to God’s presence), then I become vitally alive in the x-axis (reality in which my life-with-God plays out).
I may have discovered a rhythm for this very purpose.
This spiritual rhythm is nestled within Psalm 105:3-4. I am just now beginning to practice it, but I will at least give you the gist of it so that you can, if you desire, practice it as well!
Spiritual Rhythms, the With-God-Life, and Y-Axis Reality
First, a word about why I believe spiritual rhythms and disciplines are keys to the With-God-Life and essential to redeveloping a y-axis reality.
- Spiritual rhythms empower us to live fully into the present reality of God. They are not an ‘end’ in and of themselves. They are a means to an end – the highest End of them all – God’s presence within and among us
- Spiritual rhythms don’t earn any favor with God or serve as some arbitrary measure of our spiritual success. They are simple practices of grace, to be experienced over and over again (habit), that awaken us to the presence of Christ in our midst. As we are awakened, we are then invited to abide with Him.
As we abide with Him, we then begin to build a Jesus-way of life.
In other words, Spiritual rhythms help cultivate a life around the reality that Jesus is in our midst and that He is inviting us into an interactive and ongoing relationship with Him.
They are tools that help us live into the With-God-Life and experience a Y-axis reality.
Psalm 105:3-4 encourages the spiritual rhythm meditating and reflecting on His word and works:
“Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered.”
Three Reflections and Meditations Designed to Re-develop the Y-axis Reality
The Psalmist is inviting us to contemplate and meditate on the presence of God in our midst.
His words encourage three specific meditations that encompass all of life and lift us into a Y-axis reality in an X-axis world.
- Rejoice in his rule as you meditate on the power of His name. In this we find contentment. Hold whatever ails you up to the power of his name and rejoice in his sovereign care. Yes, He’s got this!
- Race after and Rest in His abiding presence. Assume that God is with you. Look for Him. Talk to Him. Listen to Him. When we begin to live as if God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves (Acts 17:27), we learn to rest and trust His love in the anxious moments where fear would like to control us.
- Remember the wonderful works he has done. To remember, in a bible-way, is to focus intently on, reflect, meditate, chew, and digest the thought. Spend some time recalling the works of God (the rest of Psalm 105 is a great place to start). Write them down. Carry these wonderful works with you. When you feel alone, fearful, abandoned, deserted, take a look at the list. Carefully hold your situation up to the list. You may find this will bring some much-needed perspective and hope!
As I said, I am just beginning to practice this meditation.
I know this: without spiritual practices and rhythms, I find myself easily driven by X-axis default patterns. As I employ spiritual practices and rhythms, I find myself more intently focused on the reality that God is near to me and desires to reveal His will and His way in this very present problem!
Disrupting to Renew!
I’d love to hear your thoughts!