Praying with my dad is one of my first memories as a 5 year old.
Growing up in the church, I knew the importance of having a “quiet time” every day. In fact, I saw it modeled daily by my parents. They taught me scripture and played those Donut Man christian music tapes in the car. Holla to all the kids out there who know what I'm talking about. I appreciate my parents' dedication to scripture tapes, but I did miss the entire era of Spice Girls because of it. Everyone feel bad for me.
What I'm getting at here, is that I have been given every opportunity ever to know truth and pursue God. I literally don't know how God could have been more accessible to me during my adolescence. Hashtag blessed.
Yet, I haven't always chosen to pursue God daily.
I lived the majority of the first 20 years of my walk with Jesus completely undisciplined.
I'm not even going to try to make that sound better than it is. I spent TWENTY YEARS knowing what Jesus did for me, yet chose NOT to learn from Him daily. Fighting the idea of a quiet time. Wanting to learn, yet not knowing how to be consistent. How to WANT that time. How to pray. How to not be bored out of my mind while reading the old testament.
Looking back, I rarely read my bible. The knowledge I had of God was primarily what I had been taught, told or assumed. I learned about God like a research topic in school. I googled bits of scripture and keywords to find information on topics that I wanted to know about at a time that was convenient to me because I knew what I needed and I decided when and how I wanted to hear Him.
There's plenty. Let me list them.
“I hate reading.”
“I can't fit it in my schedule right now.”
“I learn better in discussion with other people.”
“I volunteer plenty of my time.”
“It's pointless to read in the mornings when I'm so tired.”
“I serve God in other ways.”
“I'm an extrovert -I hate being by myself.”
“I don't value alone time.”
“My heart isn't in it right now, so I would just do it out of guilt.”
“I don't seem to learn much by reading.”
“I get too distracted.”
This past February I used the “I volunteer plenty” excuse. YoungLife was consuming the majority of my free time. It's like I was saying to God, “Isn't this enough? Aren't I giving you enough already?” It wasn't long before I felt absolutely drained. I had nothing more to give others when I wasn't being filled myself. I sat with my friends Heidi and Angelyn discussing my frustration.
I was embarrassed to admit that I'd been a Christian for years, yet hadn't read many parts of the bible first hand. The book I base my entire life on. Yet at the same time, I could make 1 million excuses as to why I didn't read my bible.
Heidi and Angelyn, in the most straight-forward, yet gentle way told me this: “DO IT ANY WAY.”
They said it's the most important part of your life.
They said you are NOT too busy.
They said 30 minutes less of sleep is worth the sacrifice.
They said YOU DON'T HAVE TO SEE THE BENEFIT FOR IT TO BE BENEFICIAL.
Do it any way.
They didn't make excuses for me, but spoke TRUTH into my life -words I desperately needed to hear brought perspective that didn't allow for excuses anymore. God over everything. Over my schedule, my time. Even my opinions.
For the past 9 months, I have woke up (nearly) every single day to learn. Even if I don't want to. Even if I'm tired. Even if I need 3 cups of coffee. Even if my dog rolls in poop the moment I let her outside at 6am and I have to give her a bath (happened more than once).
I don't always see the benefit. I don't always feel like a million bucks when I get done reading. I don't always feel like I can apply what I read to every day life.
But I can tell you how many times I've cried relating to Noah or Moses or Abraham. Actually, no I can't because it's happened more than I thought. I thank God for softening my heart to see His word as a guide to know Him better. Day after day it becomes a little easier to keep my morning commitment.
I know a lot of you have been faithful to that kind of commitment for decades. I know God sees that!
And to those of you who lack discipline like I did, I hope me sharing this gives you hope. If I can do it, so can you. It's never too late to form new habits.
If you're looking for a place to start, I'm going through a chronological study that gives me exactly what to read every day. Even though sometimes I only read half a days worth or a 1/4 of a days worth because I'm slow :-)
God's word is alive (Hebrews 4:12). Choose to believe it changes you.