Get Back Up Again
How are those New Year's Resolutions going?
Remember January 1? Remember the strength of your resolve on that first day of this brand new year, your rock-solid determination to conquer that foe, scale that mountain, capture that horizon? (A bit melodramatic? No one really feels that way?)
The year is now in its third month, and for many of us I'm guessing the glassy-eyed optimism with which we began it has been put to the test. Increased workloads, unexpected interruptions, unwelcome sickness, and gloomy weather (Seriously, I'm ready for sunny days.) combine to make those goals we set for ourselves seem like a foggy memory, or laughably ambitious. ("I was going to read HOW MANY books this year?!)
As a church family we set out to read through the Bible together this year. I suggested a helpful app and a chronological reading plan to follow, and we set out on a year-long journey through God's Word.
So let me ask you: How's it going?
Let me give you the gift of not being the first one to admit struggle: I'm 10 days behind in my reading plan. The rhythm I'm trying to establish is getting up in the morning about an hour-and-a-half before anyone needs me, to spend time in the Bible and in prayer. Most mornings, by God's grace, I've managed to make that work. But when I hit the "snooze" button too many times, I wake up later to realize with a pang of guilt that I've wasted my morning. Now and then I'll squeeze in the reading somewhere else in the day, but at least ten times I have not. I've simply gotten a day behind.
I wrestle with guilt over my failure to keep up - especially when I'm the one leading the charge to stay on plan! But more than feeling guilty, I also miss the opportunity to begin my day in God's presence. I have found it refreshing, encouraging, and tone-setting to hear from God in his word, and speak to him in prayer, before I speak with anyone else.
So I'll keep moving forward, and try to squeeze in multiple-days' worth of reading several times in order to catch up. But I thought it might encourage you, if you happen to have fallen prey to a similar pattern, to hear that your pastor isn't batting 1,000 either.
And to be reminded that even when it's tough, and even when you fall behind, the effort to keep going, to keep faithfully putting your heart in the path of God's words, to slough through one more chapter of difficult names and geographical boundaries, is worth it. So if you've fallen behind in your plan, please don't stop. Please don't give up. If you can catch up, great. If you're too far behind to catch up, just start with today's date and go from there. But whatever you do, don't leave God's word out of your regular rhythms and patterns of life.
After all, they are the words of eternal life (John 6:68).