The Cave, the Table and the Road

Reflections for a new year

As we end one year and step into another, many will be writing about New Year’s resolutions, evaluation processes and goal setting. Now, I love goals. In fact, I can easily become a goal-junkie. I drool over forward progress.

Is there a simple way to celebrate and assess our lives as followers of Jesus?

These three rhythms make the Christian life much simpler and more assessable.

Celtic monks in the Dark Ages viewed their spiritual lives around three primary spaces: the Cave, the Table and the Road. The cave was a place they would retreat in order to engage the Father—often alone, sometimes together. The table was a symbol of hospitality, presence and deep, committed relationships. It referred to who you were giving access into your life—those with whom you regularly shared both physical and spiritual food. The final space of importance was the road—a symbol of engagement in the world, with those God sent to cross your daily path.

When we look at the life of Jesus, we see these three rhythms as well. Scripture notes how He often snuck away to desolate places to enjoy “cave time.” On the Mount of Beatitudes, just outside Capernaum is a cave called Eremos, which overlooks the Sea of Galilee. Some believe this was the place Jesus would often retreat to early in the morning hours to pray.

Have you ever read through the Gospels and noted how many times Jesus enjoyed a meal with people? The frequency of Jesus’ “table time” earned Him the reputation of being a glutton and a drunkard (Matthew 11:19). But the truth is that Jesus prioritized time with people He loved.

The road is probably Jesus’ most easily identifiable practice as He and His band of followers engaged, healed, taught and answered questions from curious outsiders along the way.

These three rhythms make the Christian life much simpler and more assessable. I find they become a way for our family, small group and even staff to access our relational priorities.

Three questions to help you celebrate and assess:

  • As you look back on this past year, what can you celebrate in regard to these three rhythms?
  • As you look into even just the first three months of next year, where is the Holy Spirit calling you to lean in with greater intentionality—the cave, the table or the road?
  • What could that look like specifically?

Consider not only reflecting on this personally but also with your family and your ministry team. This is easily something you can come back to every quarter as you follow Jesus together.

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