My Reluctant Journey or The Theology of a Porcupine

Our guest blogger today is Mrs. P.J. Beets who is a doctoral student at Dallas Theological Seminary in the Doctor of Ministry in Spritual Formation program.

I became a Christian as an adult.  As I began to grow as a believer in Christ, God graciously brought a lot of opportunities to study His Word and be with believers that practiced some of the same spiritual habits that Christ modeled while He was on earth.

These habits are often referred to as spiritual disciplines or practices: Bible study, memorizing Scripture, prayer, fellowship, and service. They are some of the core practices that are essential to our life with God. However, I found myself responding to the thought of other spiritual disciplines with a subconscious layer of resistance.

I didn’t want to have anything to do with spiritual disciplines or spiritual practices that would take me from my known, comfortable territory of those core practices.

As a nondenominational Protestant, my journey into the spiritual disciplines reflects some of the characteristics of a porcupine…thirty thousand quills, nearsighted vision, salt hunger, and joyful expressions!

A porcupine has over thirty thousand quills that incases its body for protection. I, too, had quills of resistance to spiritual disciplines other than Bible study, memorizing Scripture, prayer, fellowship, and service that I incased my life with for protection. A porcupine is very nearsighted which prevents it from seeing beyond what is right in front of it. I, too, was very nearsighted in my perspective on spiritual disciplines. If a discipline wasn’t being practiced by those in my immediate community of believers, I was skeptical.

However, I shared another characteristic with the porcupine that turned my heart toward investigating other spiritual disciplines—salt hunger.

A porcupine is known to crave salt and go after salt. When humans crave salt, they may have experienced dehydration. I wasn’t physically dehydrated, but my soul was dehydrated. I practiced the five basic spiritual disciplines that I had been taught, yet I sensed there was something more. I even went through a period of resenting reading God’s Word.

I later realized that I did not resent God’s Word but the intellectual pride that can occur when head knowledge without heart knowledge happens. I longed to satisfy my unmet yearnings with more of God. I, like the porcupine, who craves salt, hungered for the antidote for my thirst—a deeper relationship with God. Newly discovered spiritual disciplines created space in my life so that I could relate more intimately with my LORD.

My journey has led me to learn more about practicing spiritual disciplines such as silence, lectio divina, spiritual friendships, lectionary readings, rhythms of life, practicing the presence of God, celebration, spiritual direction, fasting, meditation, examen, praying, Sabbath, and Rule for Life.

Through the space created for God by way of these disciplines, my relationship with God has deepened and brought more wholeness and satisfaction to my soul. As I am more satisfied with Him, He receives more glory.

To learn these disciplines or spiritual practices, I had to be willing to let down my protective quills and broaden my sight. I had to listen to and read of others (historically and contemporarily) that were in other denominations. I read with discernment but not fear. I am longing to satisfy my cravings for more of God and trust Him to satisfy me with more of Him through other spiritual disciplines. As a result of practicing more of the spiritual disciplines that I previously knew nothing about, I have deeper joy.

I recently read of how the porcupine exuberantly squeals for joy. I, too, like the porcupine have something to exuberantly squeal for joy over—the loving, sovereign, wise, and good God that invites reluctant travelers into a deeper, richer relationship with Him!

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

For your consideration: Adelle Calhoun’s updated book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Practices That Transform Us. Revised and Expanded. IVP Books, 2015.


Gail Seidel served as Mentor Advisor for Spiritual Formation in the Department of Spiritual Formation and Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and as an Adjunct Professor in the D Min in Spiritual Formation in the D Min Department at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has a BA in English from the University of Texas, a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Seminary and a D Min in Spiritual Formation from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is a contributor to the textbook, Foundations of Spiritual Formation, Kregel Academic. She served as co-director for Christian Women in Partnership Russia with Entrust, an international church leadership-training mission. She and her husband Andy live in Fredericksburg, Texas. They have 2 married children and 6 wonderful grandchildren--Kami, Kourtney, Katie, Mallory, Grayson, and Avery.