Ugh! As I logged on to write I noticed that my last blog entry was in August. August? Embarrassed, feeling guilty and chiding myself, I'm glad I made that commitment earlier today to spend every day I have off next week, posting at least one blog entry. Just one. I can do that!
I have a friend who is a budding young photographer. She's been honing in on her new found love by taking a photography class and enlisting friends and family members for photo shoots for her portfolio. She's also had a few paying gigs already. She inspires me.
Recently though, I guess she hit a wall. She has made a commitment to take at least one picture a day of herself as sort of a self-imposed photographic journal. I think that decision may have been made after realizing that she had not been giving as much time to her craft as she should, if she wants to get better at it. I get that. I'm there, in more ways than one.
Isn't that how all of life is, though? Unless you're a savant, we have to spend time honing and perfecting a skill if we want to get better at it. Oh, how I have found this to be true in spiritual matters especially.
So many of us want to be "fixed" right away, or want to wake up and find that the discipline we've been lacking and yearning for, is now just second nature. I really wish it worked that way! But the truth is, if we want to be a better version of ourselves, someone has to put in the work to make that happen, and guess what? That someone is ourselves.
I'll let you in on a little secret. I don't like disciplined people. I think there is something freakishly wrong with them. Really I do, because I grew up in a home where discipline was not a healthy thing. In fact, there was so much of it in the negative since of the word, that I think something inside me rejected discipline almost completely. Therefore, it takes great effort for me to be disciplined in just about anything, but I make the effort because even I know that you can't go through life simply flying off the seat of your pants.
Yet why do so many of us do that in our spiritual lives? We attend church - our weekly duty. We may even be involved in a weekday activity and volunteer at church, but that about sums up the extent of our spiritual activity. We love God most certainly, but we forget to tell him daily. We want things for our lives, good things, God-sized things but we settle for morality because the other requires more of us and perhaps we're not sure if we really want to put in that much work.
Can I tell you something? We have a graciously loving Father, who thinks the world of us, regardless of how much work we're putting into our own spiritual well-being. Not only that, but his desires for our lives far exceeds our own hopes and dreams. He pursues us with relentless passion because he simply likes being with us.
Above all, he knows we're weak, frail human beings who don't know how to love him well. Therefore, he puts his love in us and calls us to himself so that he can show us how to love him, how to love others and how to be who he's called us to be.
I think maybe that's where we should start - allowing ourselves to see the Lord as a loving Father who desires good things, great things for his beloved children. Living in fullness was his idea! We did not come up with that.
Where are you struggling to be more disciplined, or to put it another way, where are you struggling to be more like Jesus?
For me it's in the area of grace. Grace is not a common characteristic of mine. Yet I am fully aware of how gracious the Lord is with me and I want that gift in my life. I want it to ooze out of me without even trying!
So I'm working on that all the time, night and day, 24/7, and guess what? The more I work on it, the more I see how much more work I have to do! It's not supposed to work that way, right? Maybe it is. I don't know. But what I've noticed is that I try just that much harder. I press in a little bit more each day, and I desire to live a grace-filled life more and more in the process. I don't give up because the task seems unreachable based on what I currently see and know about my own life.
We don't want to throw in the towel because we realize that we're not good at something after just a few attempts. We keep pressing in, allowing those disciplines and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, to transform us in that difficult place.
My prayer for you and most definitely for my own life is that we will be people who press into God and who desire to live transformed lives, so that our lives might bring him honor. That means our spiritual growth won't just happen. We must be intentional about it.
Material possessions, prestige, status.... None of it matters if our spiritual lives are shallow and only on display one day a week. The Lord is worthy of a life lived in pursuit of becoming more and more like his Son, no matter how imperfectly that pursuit is played out. The pursuit alone is what blesses his heart.
If you're struggling or tired of not seeing growth in a particular area of your life, please allow him to reveal that truth to you. He wants to encourage you today.