12.09.2009

When I Grow Up...

I remember hearing sermons when I was little. Someday when I grow up I'll be that way.

I remember watching my Dad read his Bible every morning. When I'm older, I'll want to do that, too. I did it then, but because it was an expected habit, not because of my desire or spirituality. But when I grow up, I'll naturally do it.

I grew up. And I don't naturally do it.

Waiting for the constant desire for Christian disciplines is a downward cycle; it doesn't work that way. God is the One who changes my heart, but despite His sovereignty, He gave me the free will to seek or reject Him. The desire for Christian disciplines is a simple byproduct of surrender to Christ and taking small steps in obedience.

Several months ago, God used a series of events to return my heart to where it should be, seeking Him. I can't get my mind around all that He'd done through circumstances and people that He's placed in my life. He is so faithful to me.

One specific thing He brought was a Bible study on a book about Christian disciplines. I wasn't too excited, because I've been in a dozen step-programs that temporarily changed externals but never affected my spiritual life permanently. I was so tired of them.

But God used His truth in this book to teach me so much. It's not the book itself--I'm sure it would strike other people differently, depending on where they are. But it was exactly what I needed to hear.

Training versus trying, for example. That definitely struck a chord; what steps am I taking on a daily basis to obey the Lord and become conformed to Christ's image? Instead of "trying" to jump to sanctification--and being discouraged by failure--it's training ... daily obedience in small areas.

About the same time, I started a 40-day devotional. The challenge at the beginning was to fast from something that potentially distracts me from seeking God. My list of ideas was longer than it should have been. In the end, I chose the same thing that Kaylene did: no music while driving. Besides about ten minutes of Michael Medved, I haven't listened to anything, period, while I've driven alone the past weeks. (By the way, I haven't excluded talking on the phone.) :)

Imagine a hand automatically grappling for a volume knob to scan preset radio stations ... and then it drops in dejection. That was what it looked like for the first week or so, every time I got in the car.

It was so quiet.

It took a number of quiet drives for me to realize that I could spend that time somehow else.

Ever since Rachel began studying for the National Bible Bee (memorizing hundreds and hundreds of verses), I saw firsthand what it takes to memorize and meditate on Scripture. It's such a no-brainer, it's embarrassing to admit that it was a revelation. Time. Motivation.

Like other areas of my Christian life, I wondered why meditation on Scripture wasn't natural and automatic. 1) I didn't invest the time. 2) I was not motivated enough, i.e. not truly believing God's commands and promises.

I've printed up several Psalms and a couple chapters from Romans and Colossians. Let me tell you, my drives have been so much more worthwhile than the hours spent on Michael Medved, KLOVE or any Christian station. They have their place, maybe, but I sure don't think I've missed much these past weeks!

I realize these are pretty basic things ... that I should have learned a long time ago. But God is so gracious and merciful, to keep teaching me despite my inconsistency and weakness.

So I was excited by Kaylene's challenge to read through the Bible during January to July 2010. I intend to join her in it, and I would invite you to as well. Click on this image to read more about why she decided to do it, and let us know if you'll join us!

There's nothing magic about reading every word in the Bible in a certain time period. But seeking God's truth and committing to obey it is incredibly powerful, because God is powerful to change hearts and work miracles for His glory.

Remember how I used to think "When I grow up..."?

I've asked this question many times in sexual integrity counseling: "What are your personal goals for your marriage and family? ...Are your decisions today building toward that?" Nobody argues with the reality of sowing and reaping. So I'm asking myself the same question: "How are my decisions today moving toward the spiritual maturity I desire?"

It's not instantaneous. It's growing, and growing requires many small factors ... and time.

Where are your decisions today taking you?

2 comments:

Melinda said...

Wonderful truths, Laura! Those books both look really good; I'll have to check them out. :)

Eden and Sara said...

Hi Laura, I noticed you asked about a chronological Bible on Kaylene's blog. Blue Letter Bible has several reading plans, one is chronological. You can visit their site here: http://www.blueletterbible.org/reader/daily/ Although it's designed for 12 months, you can easily double up and read it in 6 months. Hope this helps! ~ Blessings, Eden