All the diets. All the fads. A few months ago, I was so tired of trying something new every time the tide changed. Several things worked but nothing was sustainable. As much as I hate to admit it, the simple advice from my doctor is the best advice: cut your portions, drink water, and start a daily walking routine.
I can handle the first two most of the time. But exercise? I have never been good at maintaining a daily walking routine, or even two to three times a week. Who am I kidding? Once a week is fabulous for me. Exercise consists of going up and down the stairs multiple times daily to and from my office, folding laundry (a marathon in itself!), and vacuuming.
Don’t get me wrong. I love to walk. I have a dream of being a runner. It’s my knees and lower back that don’t care much for it.
If you are reading this fresh off the presses, I will be either in surgery or recovery from it. One of the instructions I was given for recovery at home is to walk every day, a little more each day, and to not stay idle all the time. This cuts down on the risk of complications.
I got to thinking…. The only way I am going to get better at this exercise routine is to make a habit of doing a little every day. Fight through the excuses and discipline myself to just do it! No one ever made progress at anything by dreaming about it.
Another struggle I’ve had for years is the pattern of maintaining a daily quiet time, reading my Bible and studying it, spending time in prayer. I love the idea of planners and being organized and doing the same things each day, but it has never been my forte. Just like that daily walking routine, there have been days the time just seemed to slip by without a thought for even opening my Bible.
What I thought my problem was: no time.
What my problem really was: no discipline, no desire.
You see, just like we have to make it a priority to exercise every day for our physical health, we have to be intentional in prioritizing quiet time with the Lord and His Word for our spiritual health.
I came across the following passage by J.C. Ryle recently:
Read the Bible daily. Make it part of your everyday business to read and meditate on some portion of God’s Word. Gather your manna fresh every morning. Choose your own seasons and hours. Do not scramble over and hurry your reading. Give your Bible the best, and not the worst, part of your time. But whatever plan you pursue, let it be a rule of your life to visit the throne of grace and the Bible every day.J. C. Ryle
Mornings are a wonderful time to start your day with the Lord. Everyone is different, though, and I have found in this season of my life, later morning when the house is quiet or at night when everyone is in bed, these are my best times. Your time may look different. I admire greatly those who are able to focus and give the Lord their all very early in the morning!
The important thing here is not the time on the clock; it is giving the Lord the time.
What was it Ryle said? “Give your Bible the best, and not the worst, part of your time.”
I think sometimes we think of quiet time as a box to check off in our planner or an item on our to-do list. “There you go, God! I had my quiet time today!” Wonderful! What did you learn? What did God say to you? Do you feel refreshed to go about your day?
I Peter 2:2 (ESV) says, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation…”
If we are to have the discipline of pursuing a daily, intimate relationship with God and studying His Word, we must have a true desire for it.
But it’s not just the desire for God’s Word.
That daily walking routine is not something we do just for fun (although it can be); it produces a healthier body and mind. In the same way, Peter told his readers that God’s Word produces growth.
To maintain a consistent, daily fellowship with God, we must have the desire to grow in Him.
I believe too often we as Christians settle for the mundane spirituality of the twenty-first century, when we should be striving for so much more!
There are numerous stories of Christians down through the centuries who experienced God in a fresh, personal, mind-boggling way. Each time I read about one of these “super saints” as we like to call them, I’ve come to consider:
What makes them so different from me? What is holding me back from experiencing God in the same way, in making a change in the world around me just as they did?
Amy Carmichael. Billy Graham. Peter Marshall. The apostle Paul. George MacDonald. C. S. Lewis. Martin Luther. Elisabeth Elliot. I could go on and on and on.
Ordinary people God called to extraordinary tasks. All because they were willing to dedicate their time to Him, to be open to hearing from Him.
Olympic runners don’t just get up one morning and decide they will run the race that day. It takes years of discipline, daily routines of exercise and healthy living.
In the same way, we may wake up and decide to spend time with God one day and keep it up for a few days. But unless we prioritize our time and turn our desire into discipline, we will not be able to sustain it on our own.
We must make a daily walking routine…a routine of walking with God.
Purpose in your heart that you will turn your desire for God and His Word into a daily discipline. Give God your best and seek to hear from Him. Ask God to show you how this pattern of daily devotion, this daily walking routine with Him, needs to happen.
I believe if we sincerely ask for God’s direction, He will help us re-prioritize our lives and time to put Him first.
That dream I have of running? I am already signed up for a race, but the goal is a little different than a better time or distance. What about you? How’s your daily walking routine going?
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.“ – I Corinthians 9:24 (ESV)
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12–14 (ESV)