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Is a kingdom journey a spiritual discipline?

For a while now I’ve been writing a book about kingdom journeys – the pilgrimages we go on to grow spiritually. I call them “kingdom journeys” because they build the kingdom of God. For whatever reason, it’s not been an easy book to write. Maybe it’s because I’ve got too much to say and can’t…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
For a while now I’ve been writing a book about kingdom journeys – the pilgrimages we go on to grow spiritually. I call them “kingdom journeys” because they build the kingdom of God. For whatever reason, it’s not been an easy book to write. Maybe it’s because I’ve got too much to say and can’t cut it back enough. Or maybe I haven’t learned enough about the subject yet.
 
It’s my hypothesis that a kingdom journey is a kind of spiritual discipline. When they work as God intended them to, they lead us into hard places, places where we’re uncomfortable. Places like abandon and brokenness.
We know about the spiritual disciplines of fasting, solitude and prayer, but what about the discipline of a spiritual journey? Jesus sent his disciples out on them. His three years of ministry was one big journey. And within that span of time, he launched them out on multiple other sub-journeys – practice runs where they could get ready for life after their rabbi was gone.
 
Discipline is a bad word for a lot of people. In a nation of parents who don’t discipline their children, getting dessert before dinner has become normal.
 
Who likes spiritual disciplines? The author of Hebrews says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest…” (Heb. 12:11) Spiritual disciplines involve self-denial, a postponement of pleasure for spiritual gain.
 
And in that regard, a short-term mission can be a kind of kingdom journey. When done well, that is, when they are long enough and challenging enough, following the precepts of Matthew 10, they take you to new physical places with spiritual parallels. You go on them to serve others, setting aside your own needs and wants. I’ve devoted my life to helping people grow as disciples through their journeys. Over and over again I’ve watched them radically transform people’s lives.
 
It was the discipline of a kingdom journey that changed my life and has kept changing it over the years. Going to Indonesia for a year after college challenged me to think in new ways, meet new people, and cope with numerous physical challenges. It created the context in which I could grow spiritually.
 

My thinking about this is still taking shape. No doubt many of you reading this have been changed through your own kingdom journeys. If you’ve got insight along these lines, I’d appreciate it. What was it that helped change you? How was your experience like a discipline?

Comments (3)

  • I’ve thought of the World Race as a Kingdom journey, but had never thought of it as being a discipline. It definitely WAS for me… and a much needed one. It kills me when people say “I think it’s great what you did, but I could never do that.” Yeah, I could never do what I did either. That’s the point. God gives us grace and takes us beyond ourselves when we embark on something he has called us to.

    Although we have a shortcut for nearly everything these days, there’s nothing that can replace the rewards of a discipline- something that takes time and effort and struggle. In a world of hares, the tortoise still wins.

  • Sometimes God initiates a new Kingdom journey by the events of your life; a divorce, a job assignment, a failed business venture, a change of heart, a new relationship. How you respond to these external events shapes the journey and takes you down a path. When you come to a fork in the road and you choose the trail that honors Him, it continues to be a Kingdom journey. When we choose the wrong path, we go off into the woods on our own. God will offer us a new choice, a new fork, to get back on track. My Kingdom journey is the cumulative set of choices, some following Him, some following my whims, some avoiding my fears, that ultimately brings me closer to Him and His heart. Sometimes, however, I fear the footprints that I’ve left are circuitous, like the Israelites in the desert.

    Lord, help me choose the right path in my Kingdom journey.

    “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

  • Nice picture of you Seth!

    I do believe in the principle of a Kingdom journey. There is something in its ‘epic-ness’ that is really needed. People don’t know it until they experience it, that we have a need as a human to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. It was my Kingdom journey that began on the World Race that awoke me to that reality.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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