“The Christian experience, from start to finish, is a journey of faith.” Watchman Nee
Remember that how you live your days is how you will live your life. Like this faithful fellow Christ-follower Watchman Nee stated, a life of faith is a journey. The most fulfilling life is one lived daily in the Word of God. If you find yourself away from God or neglecting the daily patterns of a growing spiritual life, consider starting again. So often the journey requires us to just put one foot in front of another. My hope for you today is that you have already found the immense joy of being a child of God. If you have not embraced God’s offer of forgiveness and life of contentment in His presence, please message me. I would love to share the story of my spiritual journey with you. As a Christ follower, you may experience times of dryness in your spiritual experience. Wherever you find yourself today, know that God is intensely fond of you. He desires to carry on a conversation with you all day every day. God created you in His image. His love for you is personal. If your spiritual life is lacking, let me encourage you to restart where you are with these five truths.
1. God is a god of new beginnings.
He embraces do-overs.
Perhaps you know the verse in Philippians 3:13-14 that reads, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for what God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” The strong life of living daily with the power of the Holy Spirt living through you is motivated by a goal post way ahead. The truth of the day-to-day is really about this “straining toward what is ahead.” If we are just responding to the daily concerns that come at us without the perspective of where we want to go, we will continue to miss our potential. The lifestyle of “straining toward what is ahead,” insists that “heavenward” looking propels you and I forward to God-likeness.
C.S. Lewis communicates that we should pursue what is “further in and further up.” This refers to a deeper, more substantial life lived daily.
Consider the people that you know. Think of someone that really made serious mistakes in their life, but then repented, turned from their sin and walked forward in a God-honoring lifestyle. People remember how you finish. Hope is a motivator. If you have neglected your friendship with God, He is eager to catch up with you. Think of a favorite friend who you have not seen in a while. Perhaps you share a lifetime of memories with this friend. However, the two of you have not talked, laughed and enjoyed each other’s company in way too long. What should be done? Make a call. Make a visit. Make a start. Just like a friend you have here on earth, God is eager to renew connection with you. God is waiting.
2. It starts with me.
Perhaps you are a parent or a spouse. Perhaps you desire that your loved one loves the Lord. Maybe you long for them to follow God’s Word and live close to God each day. Yet you find is difficult to be consistent with the basics needed to grow in your walk with God. Consider this. You have to clean up the chaos in your own life before you can be an inspiration for others to follow. In my life, the sincere knowledge that others are following me motivates me to choose wisely. As a mother, the truth of “do as I do” works much better than “do as I say.” This sort of leadership did not start when I became a mom. Before motherhood, I was a big sister. In my teen years, I discipled people my age to love and follow Jesus. No matter your situation, someone is watching. What will they follow?
In order to mature, I must set the example of reading my Bible each day, praying for others, watching my words and attitude, practicing my responses, living out obedience to God’s directives, living respectfully under authority and practicing kindness.
I must lead myself if I am to successfully lead others. This is truth.
3. Stick to the basics.
If I overengineer the strong life, I may anticipate failure. Creating a plan that is unnecessarily complex is unwise. For example, if I create an unrealistically complicated goal, I am doomed to failure.
Focus on the basics.
- Read scripture daily.
- Pray out loud. Pray often.
- Pray scripture.
- Pray for others. When someone needs prayer, stop everything. Gather those near and pray out loud to God. This takes courage, but it demonstrates strength and faith. Very few things are as impactful as someone praying for you instantly and out loud. Be that person. This is the true definition of encouragement which really means putting courage “in.”
- Be the hands and feet of Christ by acts of kindness.
- Speak carefully. Guard your tongue.
- Pursue holy living. This is a choice. It takes self-regulation. Choose this lifestyle because it brings joy and blessing. Remember all choices bring consequences. Choose wisely.
- Live with integrity. Tell the truth. Live with morals. Practice ethical responses.
Since I am a mom to five children, I keenly remember the days when I was too tired to read coherently. No kidding. Have you ever been so tired that when you sit to read, you fall asleep or your mind just wanders into a blank tunnel. Fatigue. It is a reality of mothering. My expectations of spiritual patterns had to be adjusted appropriately. While I was nursing a baby, I would rock and sing thankful songs to God. Often all I could do was just listen to worship songs. Sometimes I would just read through my verse cards. In this season of grown kids, I am back to some familiar academic patterns of being with God. I have been writing new verse cards. They are traveling with me in the car and going on walks with me. Recalling verses from memory is essential to growth. In this new season, I am starting again. It is part of staring where you are.
Lately, I have been working to strengthen my prayer life. Building a prayer notebook establishes specific ways to pray. When I ask others how I can pray for them, I try to stop right there and pray out loud. This is a response that I want to do more often. I am starting where I am in this daily pattern with the hope of maturity. I am praying for opportunities and courage to respond when those opportunities happen.
Be practical in establishing a plan. Creating impossible goals encourages a scenario where excuses qualify quitting.
4. Practice the pause.
This may the easiest, but hardest point. When you stop and just drink in the scenery around you, it seems to come into sharper view. As a photographer, I love being behind a lens. This perspective encourages focus on the whole view in addition to the details. Truthfully, God has scattered luscious gifts all around you and me. Every day offers variety in the weather, in the seasons, in the color of the sky, in the face of our loved ones and in the creatures living in nature right beside us. My senses are part of God’s gift. Recently, many have lost their senses of taste and smell for an extended time. What a loss.
Most days I look up to see what gifts are above me. I used to look at the clouds and the stars on a regular basis. Somewhere I stopped. I am starting where I am now to recover this life-giving habit.
Stop. Look. Listen.
Practice deep breathing. Live in quiet. Observe with all five senses.
Look. Listen. Feel. Taste. Smell.
Our days offer a bouquet of gifts. God has wrapped them in the pleasure of our senses. He is not careless in the details of a budding flower, the melody of an acoustic guitar, the exploding of a vibrant sunrise, the gentle breeze, or buttery warm bread. These are just some of the exquisite gifts He offers us. His kindness toward us is everywhere. Don’t miss His gifts to you.
5. Grow beside others.
If you long to be close to the Lord, one of the greatest things you can do is to find people who will walk beside you spiritually. Accountability is amazing. Find a small group to do life with as you grow in your faith. God desires to write a beautiful story with your life. He created us to live in community. When we gather with a group, we work in tandem with our gifts. Others bring to us what God is doing in and through them. The encouragement reminds us that we are not alone. Look for a small group through your church family. Create a gathering of those you know are like minded. It does not have to be a large group. Some of the best huddles are less than ten people.
So, remember that God is a god of do-overs. He invites you into a relationship with Him with open arms. Forgiveness is readily available. If I am going to start again, I have to begin. It starts as a decision I make. No one else can initiate this pivot. Maybe I am slow, but I think that the only person that I can really change is me. I can’t truly change anyone else….just me. By starting with the basics and pausing to notice all that God gifts you every day, joy will overwhelm you. When you lock arms with fellow Christ-followers, your growth together potentially propels you more rapidly than on your own. Some believe that we mirror our friends. In other words, select people to hang with that reflect what you want to be.
If you desire to be close to God, start right where you are. Just start.
Remember that how you live your days are how you will live your life.
Listen to the podcast with this title on Embrace Your Everyday podcast.