Donald Whitney’s book on spiritual health is probably one of the most challenging that I have read in the last few years. I began to read it not really expecting to finish. You just never know what you will find in books that claim to offer insights into spiritual formation. What I found was a book that did not travel the same path as other books. Each of the questions struck a different note. And each question moved me closer to understanding that there is much more involved in my own spiritual development than I had noted before.
I think that one of the things that struck me about each of the questions was how “ordinary” they were. There were not overly spiritual, but as I dug deeper into what they meant for my own faith journey I was struck at how much was still left to uncover. This is not a book that can be read or digested quickly. I would say that each question could be expanded into individual books themselves. As I read I found myself challenged on two fronts.
First, I was struck by the directness of the questions. There was not mincing of words. Whitney was direct and went right to the bottom line. There is a wonderful mix of practical application and spiritual depth. I found myself having to pause and think, often times several times on the same page. This is not one of those books you just push through reading. It has a tendency to push back.
The second area that I found myself thinking about was this. If I cannot answer these questions in a Biblical and honest way there is a problem with my spiritual health. Along these lines, I realized that the questions were not what I expected. I was expecting some other “spiritual” questions, but as I read and thought about the questions that Whitney asked I was left rethinking what I thought was spiritual and what was not.
As we walk along the path of faith, we will be confronted with the fact that the longer my “life” and my “faith” exist in different, separate areas, the longer it will take for me to arrive at a place of maturity. These questions reveal that I cannot avoid becoming a Christian if I practice spiritual disciplines. And isn’t this exactly what we want, to be what we profess?
My next post will give the ten questions and some of my thoughts about each.