Kathleen Kjolhaug Religion Columnist
Friday, July 16, 2021
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The midnight blue book with golden letters upon the cover reads, “Ragged, Spiritual Disciplines for the Spiritually Exhausted” by Gretchen Ronnevik.

Gretchen is from Fergus Falls, MN and a country gal. Her husband’s a farmer and they have a pile of kids. That’s all I needed to know about the book before I picked it up. Wanting to know how a gal who has to discipline her own kiddos yet apparently still has time for spiritual disciplines got my attention. The exhausted part of the title automatically resonated … so thought I’d give it a try. Spoiler alert, I was not disappointed.

Gretchen’s voice is unique. She tells her story while knitting warmth all around by inviting us in. Like a pile of wool waiting to be spun, her words are chain-linked and when they come together, they wrap round us resonating deep within. The richness she brings to the table of grace is for such a time as this. Much needed are the words in print, and while it’s an incredibly easy ready, the depth is beyond measure.

She says things like, “The spiritual disciplines are the holy-therapy exercises to ground us in the reality of God’s sufficient work. They are the recovery work of our human souls traumatized by the Fall (Gen. 3). They don’t earn us grace. They awaken us to the reality of grace.”

She says things like, “The spiritual disciplines are God putting us in physical situations where we must face our depravity and his sufficiency.”

She says things like, “You won’t find a list with details of how much, how long, or how often you must practice meditation, or prayer, or lament. They’re just a part of life. The Holy Spirit will offer these things to you for each situation, as needed.”

She says things like, “He calls us to participate in our restoration, not contribute to our restoration. We are restored when we remember what God has done, in very tangible, tactile ways. The restoration isn’t theoretical. It’s practical.”

I enjoyed the passages she’s chosen to incorporate as well as the personal stories she shares.

A young man who read it was touched by this quote. “Spiritual maturity isn’t pious independence from God, but a deeper dependence on him. The Christian life is to sink into his sufficiency, not prove we can do it on our own.”

A young woman who read it enjoyed this nugget. “God will disrupt our striving towards our own ideal of perfection as many times as he needs in order to teach us to take our eyes off of ourselves and look at him.”

So, if you are looking for something to ponder that brings a whole lot of rootedness, you need look no further. Gretchen explains, “The good news is that spiritual disciplines have less to do with what we bring before God and more about who Christ is for us, not only as the author but also as the perfector of our faith.”

Hebrews 12:2 agrees.

“Therefore, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross … and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

My recommendation would be to not take my word for it, but take a look yourself. May you be deeply enriched by what you find. Amen.

(Kathleen Kjolhaug is a religion columnist.)



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