Throughout the Lenten journey, I have made some commitments to read, study, pray, and worship on a daily basis. Each day, I have blocked out periods of time in which I can focus on these spiritual disciplines in a non-work related manner. And, as we rapidly approach Easter Sunday, I have been taking some time to examine whether or not this practice is bearing any fruit.
Honestly, it depends on the day…
There are days when I feel greatly enriched by the time in prayer, study, and worship. On these days, I feel that I am more inclined to get out of my comfort zone and look for opportunities to do my part to help spread love and bring peace into this world. These are the days when I feel closer to Jesus, my family, my friends, my community.
Then there are days when I feel like I am simply going through the motions…just checking items off of my spiritual requirements checklist. On the bad days, I tend to view this as a task to be completed…much like a homework assignment…and to be honest…I never really took homework seriously. On these days, I find myself less inclined to make any kind of positive impact on the world.
On the days when I feel like I’m not really connecting…when I feel like I’m just going through routine motions…I tend to find something to blame. I either blame the material I’m reading…the music or messages I’m listening to…outside disturbances and distractions.
You see, I just do not want to take personal responsibility for those days when I’m not connecting. Heaven forbid that I have some kind of breakthrough where I realize that the problem lies within me. Is the material bad…or am I simply not wanting to be challenged? Is the material bad…or am I simply not putting myself in a position where distractions are minimized? Is it that God is not speaking to me…or that I am not putting myself in a position where I am open to His voice?
Generally, the thing that is truly interfering with my ability to connect with God is me. I am distracted. I find myself wanting to write the whole exercise off because it’s just some kind of legalistic routine that is void of life.
And, then, I realize that God is working on me through all of this…because I find myself longing to connect with Him…I find myself longing to change…I find myself with an intense desire to change.
Throughout the process, I’ve been using a devotional that asks three questions at the end of each session. The questions basically revolve around what God is revealing through the study. As I look throughout the journal I’ve been keeping, I can see a pattern because almost every single day the answers are the same.
I see the need to become less selfish.
I see the need to become more compassionate, kind, gentle, patient, thankful, loving, and forgiving.
I see the need to be in prayer, worship, and study…because it continually reveals my need to change…it reveals my dependency on God…it humbles me…it corrects me…it inspires me…it encourages me…it restores me…it renews me…it helps me realize that I have a long way to go in order to “get it together”.
I see the need to struggle through some routines because these routines just might help me become more like the kind of person God desires me to be…
So, as opposed to routines as I may be, throughout this journey I have discovered the beauty within the routine. I have discovered a fresh perspective on faith, ministry, and life in general. I have discovered a new desire to “get it together”!
Do you have some life-giving routines that you struggle getting through? Do you have some routines that bring you great joy?
Colossians 3:12-15: “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”