Monday, March 6, 2023
The Deeply Formed Life by Rich Villodas
Lenten Devotional by Cheryl Mahon
Rich Villodas is the Brooklyn-born lead pastor of New Life Fellowship, a large multiracial church in Queens. Rich graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in pastoral ministry and theology from Nyack College and completed his Master of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.
Paul said that we are not transformed from the outside in; we are transformed from the inside out. In his book, The Deeply Formed Life, Rich Villodas explores five values that we need to be deeply formed, to root us in the way of Jesus. I have written my Lenten devotions based on the first value he presents – contemplative rhythms for an exhausted life.
Villodas writes, “As long as we remain enslaved to a culture of speed, superficiality, and distraction, we will not be the people God longs for us to be.” On average, humans walk at a pace of three miles an hour. God has all the time in the world and He is never in a rush. I often encounter God when I take a leisurely three-mile and hour walk, especially when I am outside in nature. Villodas asks us to think about what it would be like to walk at God’s speed rather than society’s speed.
Was Jesus able to live the life he did as a human because of his constant time and energy being with the Father in prayer? Villodas writes of monastic life in the early centuries. Most of us realize that ordering our lives around rhythms of silence, solitude, and prayer would enrich our lives. The problem is, we don’t live in monasteries and this rhythm is difficult to maintain in a world that’s constantly asking us to prove ourselves.
Villodas says we need to regularly come back to a rhythm of communion and reflection at a life-giving pace. This is the only way we can offer our presence to the present moment. Theologian and poet Thomas Merton once wrote, “Solitude is to be preserved, not as a luxury but as a necessity: not for ‘perfection’ so much as for simple ‘survival’ in the life God has given you.” Villodas adds, “Contemplative rhythms enable us to leave the world in order to not only survive but thrive in it.”
Dear Heavenly Father, help me to slow down to your pace at least for a while today. Help me to leave the world, along with its enticements and false messages of assurance, and draw closer to you. Help me to open my ears to what You have to say. Amen.
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