Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Consistency

As we talked about Sunday's sermon over lunch after church and as we gathered to pray Sunday evening, there was a recurring theme in people's responses and prayers. We are inconsistent and lacking in discipline. In our race of faith, we fail to do what all serious athletes know they have to do. Make a plan and stick to it.

I have often failed in this regard. Too often I have thought, "It won't matter if I don't read my Bible today. I need to do _________ (fill in the blank) and I'll catch up tomorrow," or
"I'm too _______(busy,tired, distracted, you name it) to pray right now."

Coty used two quotes from coaches that stuck with me:
"When you miss training for one day you allow a
breach in the wall of routine."

and
"Run until the question of running never comes up."
Do I view spiritual disciplines in this way? Do I allow breaches in the wall of my routine that will eventually crack and eventually cause all routine to crumble away? The answer is yes, I have allowed breaches - many of them.

Do I read my Bible every day until the question of reading my Bible never comes up? The answer is no. This most important spiritual discipline continues at times to be weak in my life, though, by God's grace and with his enabling, I have been much more consistent in recent months.

I go back to a story and an image from Elisabeth Elliot's book The Shaping of a Christian Family. Elisabeth tells about how her own mother made time daily to meet with God,

"Not very early in the morning as my father did...but after the children left for school she went to her appointment with the Lord. I don't know when I first became aware of this....Mother always had her "little rocker" as she called it, in her bedroom, next to the little antique sewing table which stood under the window. On top of its crisp white linen cover was the neat stack of Bible, hymnbook, and the small red prayer notebook with a pen handy. Mother, as erect as Whistler's mother, sat in her rocking chair, reading, singing softly, praying, and occasionally jotting something in the margin of her Bible or in the notebook.."
Will my children remember their mother reading the Bible consistently? Will they picture in their minds a straw basket with Bible, Valley of Vision prayer book, journal, and prayer notebook? Will they picture their mother swinging gently on the porch swing, Bible in hand or curled up in the wing chair in the music room, head bowed. Will it be a consistent memory?

It is certainly not just for the memory in my children's minds that this consistency is important. Oh no. It is vitally important for now, for every day, for wisdom and discernment, for knowledge and understanding, for contentment and spurring on. It is as vital to my life as an Olympic athlete's consistent training is. No, it is more vital. Because, unlike the Olympic athlete who may only take his gold medal as far as the grave, the benefits of consistency in walking with God are eternal.

Coty said in the sermon, "consistency makes a statement to yourself, 'I am a child of God'." That's who I am. Spending time in the word is simply what a child of God does, like running is what a runner does. I can't live without it.

Post #2 in this week's focus on running the race of faith

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