I realized that it’s been a good month since I’ve written a blog, and I am definitely overdue. It’s not like I don’t have lots of blog ideas, but I seldom have the time to write the blog when the idea pops up. So, here I am now, having just put my daughter down for a nap….I think I can squeeze in an update on my life.
Over the past month (and some time before that), I’ve been really focused on living a more disciplined life. I didn’t think that I was all over the place before, but I felt like I could do much better. So I started off by challenging myself to read something that I would never pick up but could be beneficial to my Christian walk. The book I chose was William Law’s A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life.
Let me tell you, this book is NOT for the faint of heart. I wouldn’t recommend this book to brand new Christians, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend this book to people who deal with issues of guilt and feelings of not measuring up in the Christian life. If you fall into that camp, I think you still need massive doses of grace. However, if you’ve been a Christian for a while and are comfortable in your walk, I think this book is a great read for you, and it will seriously challenge you to be more devoted to God. Now, I didn’t take this book in a legalistic sense (like the…I have to do everything he says, exactly how he says it). But I did compare his arguments to Scripture, and I assessed my willingness to even attempt to be more devoted to God with. I found out pretty quickly that I was full of excuses and that those excuses really weren’t valid at all. So, I’ll just share with you some of the changes that I’ve made over the past month (and then some).
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. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Personal Devotion Time
Okay, so this was a huge area in my life that I’ve made tons of excuses for. If my daughter didn’t take her naps like she was supposed to, I just didn’t have the time to spend with God the way I wanted and needed to. If she did take a nap, but I had to catch up on some housework, I didn’t spend that time with God. On days I had lots of errands to run, I knew I wouldn’t spend time with God, and somehow all of that was perfectly okay with me.
So being convicted about this, I realized that the Christian life is lived with consistent, daily sacrifices. It will personally cost you to take up your cross and keep on walking. I could not keep on neglecting personal time with God to read, study, and meditate on the Word and expect to grow in maturity and to live a victorious Christian life. So as I sat pondering on what to do, I realized that I had one major extravagance that stole a lot of my time…..sleep.
Only the Lord knows how difficult it was for me, but I made the decision to wake up at 6 am Monday – Friday to spend that time studying God’s Word. At 6 am, my daughter was still sleep, my husband was preparing to leave for work, and I could have a good bit of time to really get into my word. It was hard. The first week, I had body pains in random places every single night. The second week, my daughter woke up at 6 am or during that hour, was banging on the wall, and wanting attention. Basically, every day offered me a valid excuse not to get out of bed and get into my word. But, I realized that the enemy would love for me not to be more devoted, and I prayed and continued to ask God for even more grace to get up in the morning. He graciously answered my prayer every one of those days, and He’s even gotten me up early on Saturday mornings too, just so that even on that day I spend the time in study and prayer.
Overall, the result has been tremendously blessed. I’m studying (literally studying) through the book of Proverbs, and my time with God in the morning couldn’t be a better start to my day. God gave me a lot of strength and grace to wake up, and my body has gotten used to functioning without that much sleep. But most importantly, God is opening up my eyes to see Him more clearly through His Word and to see what He is requiring of us as His children.
This is still a serious “work in progress” for me, but having been convicted about my devotional time, I soon became convicted about my prayer life…..or rather, the lack of a consistent prayer life. So, this is something that I am trying to be more intentional about every single day (having a set time to pray, and also praying in little moments throughout the day for various needs as they arrive). I also got the bright idea over this past weekend to keep a prayer diary where I write down what I’ve prayed for each day. I figure it’s like keeping a food diary….when you have to write down exactly what you’ve done, you see where you are making mistakes more readily, and you change your behavior. My hope is that this will allow me to keep track of what I’m praying for, make sure I’m praying for things that are in God’s will, and challenge me to pray for others a lot more than what I do.
But, since I was waking up earlier in the mornings, I spoke with my husband, and now we are able to have prayer together before he leaves for work. I know that people have often said that “couples who pray together, stay together”. But seriously, I have found no sweeter communion than having prayer with my husband. It’s such a rich and blessed time for me, and I only wish it could last a longer.
And finally, I’m now reading through a set of books on prayer written by Andrew Murray. He touches base on the sin of prayerlessness, overcoming that sin, how to intercede for others, and much more. The chapters are short, but he is extremely frank and concise. So that has been a great blessing to me as I discipline myself more in this area.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. – Ephesians 5:15-17
Studying through Proverbs, you are constantly faced with the admonition to be wise, to walk circumspectly, to live righteously, and so on. Well, in thinking on these things over the past couple of weeks, I realized that I wasted a lot of time on a day to day basis. For me, most of my time was eaten up through the Internet, specifically Facebook. Just being real, when you’re a stay at home mom of one child, you tend to get bored through the day. So I liked to see what other people were doing, read statuses, comment on foolishness, and so on.
Well, the conviction got deeper and deeper, and I began to entertain getting off Facebook. I mentioned it to my husband, and he thought about it for a day before he decided to delete his account. Trust me, I was perfectly shocked. But it took me about a week, and I deleted that account on November 16th. I realized quickly how attached I was to the site, because I was feeling anxious about everything that I thought I was missing. But again, God has given me grace, and I now use the computer for work purposes, to keep up our family budget, to look for recipes, and to check email. But even now, I’m not online nearly as long as I used to be, and it’s been great. I get my work done more quickly, and I’m able to spend more time with my daughter. I was even offered a small part-time job to make a little extra income for our home while being at home with my daughter, and I’m able to manage even that extra responsibility because I have more time readily available. I definitely praise God for that!
In addition, when I was thinking about my time, I realized how warped my mindset had been about the luxury of “weekends”. Personally, I always got frustrated with not being able to have a real day off like my husband, but God dealt with me even on that. As a Christian, we are called to work diligently every single day, and it is why the hallmark of our week is the Sabbath. Sunday is that one day where you aren’t doing all of the work that you normally do because you have a day of rest that is fully devoted to the Lord. And you know what? The Sabbath will never be a day of much-needed rest unless you have worked very diligently Monday through Saturday. So challenged by that bit of knowledge, I started to think about Saturdays as I think about Mondays through Fridays, another day to work hard and get done things that need to get done. The benefit is that on Saturdays, my husband is home, and I can more easily get work done because someone else has eyes on our daughter.
Well, that has really transformed my heart and mind when Saturdays approach. I’m no longer irritated or frustrated about not doing anything at all. I’m not resentful towards my husband for his seemingly easier day (granted, my husband works at home on Saturdays), and I cheerfully go about my work because I know I have a well-earned Sabbath rest. So, it’s been great, and I truly thank God for challenging me in this area so unexpectedly.
Addressing Sin Head On
And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves… – Mark 9:43-50
I also realized that by getting off of Facebook, I wasn’t wrestling with covetousness and jealousy as much either. When I used to look at other people’s profiles and status updates, I basically kept comparing my life to theirs (I had a lot of college friends), and I kept being discontent with my own life and even my marriage. So by shutting it down, I realized I wasn’t tempted to sin in that area like I used to be. And that caused me to consider other areas of my life where I know I’m prone to sin, but I’ve done nothing about it. So, basically, I no longer catch up with my beloved HGTV on Hulu any more so that I’m not tempted to be discontent with what we have because I see people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on huge homes or renovate stuff that I wish I had. Overall, it’s been really good. I have more peace in my life, and I am learning how to be content with what God has provided for us.
I never realized how detrimental addressing sin head on is, but I encourage you to assess yourself. And if you see areas where you are constantly tempted to sin (no matter how small that sin may seem in your eyes), cut whatever you need to off, and live a life that is steadily being freed from sin. It’s absolutely amazing, and sanctification is becoming more and more real to me each day. Plus, you do not want to disqualify yourself before God because you allowed sin to linger in your life, knowingly, and refused to address it. What good are you if you, as a professing Christian, do not deal with sin, the very thing that offends God and His holiness? You become worthless, and He will cast you out. So deal with your sin. By the grace of God, deal with your sin.
So last thing, I figured that I could also be more disciplined with my body, in particular the food I put into my body and what I do with my body. So I thought about what I ate, and I started to cut back on areas where I was being excessive. That has proved to be beneficial because I now have a better sense of when I’m actually full and when I’m actually hungry, and not just snacking all the time. I have more energy now, and somebody told me I looked like I was losing weight. Now, personally I think they were exaggerating (lol), but I have noticed small changes in my body.
The second part of this was actually disciplining myself in what I do with my body. Living in an apartment, we don’t have a yard where I can run around with my daughter. But I knew that I couldn’t keep that as an excuse. So nowadays, I am taking my daughter to the park more often. I take her for stroller walks, just so that I can have some activity in my day. And when the weather is poor outside, I try to do something inside. I will not say that I am perfect in this area by any means, but I am making strides to be more disciplined. And I am starting to see the benefits of it too.
So, yes, that is what I’ve been up to for the past month plus. I greatly encourage you to challenge yourself to be more disciplined in your Christian walk. Truly, the enemy would love for you to hold onto your excuses and reasons why you can’t do certain things. But a more fervent relationship with God is well worth all of the sacrifices you are already called to make. It’s a marathon people, not a sprint. The Christian life requires us to be diligent, faithful, and to endure and persevere. It takes a lot of work and a lot of effort to endure and persevere, but His grace is always sufficient. And His strength is made perfect in our weakness. So, confess your weaknesses to God and lean on Him to get you to where you need to be. But don’t use it as an excuse to do nothing at all. Discipline yourselves.