Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (Psalm 1:1-3).
Isn't that what we all want? To know that we are planted securely in God's purposes and see fruit and prosperity in our lives? Yet, I think, equally as much, we want it to just happen...poof...all in an instant without much effort or sacrifice. It's human nature. We want ease. We want our feelings to be in line or support what it is we are called to do. But, very often, that is not what happens. Very often things aren't easy, don't come naturally, and our feelings are doing nothing but pulling us away from the very thing we need to or should do.
For years, this is how it was for me in regards to pretty much anything that fell into the category of "obedience to God." It didn't matter what it was...quiet time, personal prayer, bible study, accountability, pursuit of holiness, taming my tongue...you name it. There were very few things I FELT like doing for God. Those I was naturally inclined to do, I did with relish, the rest just fell by the wayside. Needless to say, in those years I didn't see much fruit or prosperity. In truth, I was barely hanging on to my faith and did not know the peace and assurance God promises us. I wanted it to just happen. I wanted to want it. I wanted to just wake up one day holy and spiritually powerful.
But, as John Stott says, "Holiness is not a condition into which we drift" it is one we must purposefully walk, and at times, fight, our way into.
For me, the walk began modestly and innocuously enough. I had been praying for a couple of months regarding my constant struggle with sin. Again, I wanted the Lord to just make it go away...and once again, I wanted my effort to be minimal. What the Lord led me to do was put a Bible in my bathroom. So, at that point, I began to read for 10 or 15 minutes on the potty. I was groggy, still half asleep and barely remembered anything I read...but by His grace, I was faithful. Every so often, something would jump up off the page and touch my heart. I'd respond emotionally, underline it and move on.
But things didn't stay that way. The Lord blessed the faithfulness He had given me and soon, I was really reading. I looked forward to that time...still on the potty...each morning. It then got to the point where I was reading a bit more and my legs would fall asleep from sitting in a place that was not built for extended stays or comfort, so I moved to my bed.
That was about 3 years ago. And He has done much in and through my life since.
As time has gone by, the Lord has expanded and added more and more elements to this morning time with Him...but we will get into those in upcoming posts. But, my point in sharing all of this is because after my last post, I really felt led of the Lord to share a bit about my very humble devotional beginnings and encourage those out there who continue to struggle with this discipline to try again.
Before I began this last time, I had many failed attempts...many mornings when I woke up and thought "well, I'll start tomorrow" and tomorrow never came. What the Lord has shown me is that there is no power in wishing or good intentions...there is power in action. And, there is power in small actions. He will grow them into big ones.
The tree planted by the rivers of water started out as a tiny seed. It had to sprout and work its way up through the soil out into the open air. Then it had to continue to grow, all reedy and green...no doubt braving winds and rain, trusting that its tiny root system would hold...until, finally, it had more substance, thickness, bark and deeper roots that would withstand anything the river, the sky or animals could inflict.
Such is the case with any spiritual discipline. We start with what we have and God grows it and creates something strong and beautiful...something that will then help, serve, comfort and strengthen others. So, no matter what your quiet time looks like. No matter what your friends or spouses or relatives quiet times look like. No matter what amount of time you think you have available now...do it. Start now. Do not wait. Like the lame man at the gate, when you take a step in faith, the Lord will make your previously weak feet and ankles strong and you will soon run and leap with joy!
Remember, "holiness is not a condition into which we drift" we must walk purposefully towards it...daily...and trust the Lord with the rest. He will meet you. He will give you grace and more grace. He will bless and multiply your offering. He will change your heart and order your life according to His purposes. Bit by bit. Precept upon precept. Morning by morning.