I usually consider myself a fairly disciplined person. I like my routine, my schedule, and my fairly rigid school schedule keeps me aware of every minute on the clock during the day. Even when I was young I enjoyed sticking to a schedule and being very disciplined and organized in the way I spent my time--and even in the way I spent my money. I guess I thought my spiritual life would be like that, too. Just something I naturally fell into, was able to organize, and accomplish just with the simple stroke of a pen in my planner. But it hasn't turned out that way at all. I still struggle with making a plan and sticking to my quiet time alone with God. Why is that so hard to do?
This book my Bible study group has just started--"Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" by Donald S. Whitney--has really been an eye-opener in the first chapter. My spiritual life is a DISCIPLINE. Duh! I really enjoyed his illustration about the discipline of learning a musical instrument. Now there's something I can relate to. I don't really have a daily "practice schedule" for piano anymore for myself, but I did for all of my grade school years that I can remember. I remember having to practice the piano 10 hours a week in college. And I deal with students practically every day who struggle with finding time in their schedules to practice. Now when it comes to piano practice, I can tell a student straight up, "Can you find just 5 or 10 minutes in your day to sit down and even do a LITTLE practice? I'd much rather you did 10 minutes for 6 days than 60 minutes for 1 day. Piano is a discipline; you are training your finger muscles, and a little bit every day goes a long way." Haha, maybe I should follow my own advice! "Even if you don't feel like it, make yourself practice. You will see the results!"
What are some of the pitfalls that make this hard to do in my spiritual life? 1) I don't see the results. When I practice a piece of music, in a few days I can usually see some improvement. I need to keep my focus on the goal of godliness. 2) I don't surround myself with encouragers. Do I have people around me who will keep me accountable? Am I spending time with fellow believers who are helping me to see the areas of growth I need to work on? 3) I don't have a plan. Just like learning a musical instrument, it's not going to be easy at first--or maybe even years later. I think I've been waiting for the "instant change" that's never going to happen. I'm not going to get struck with lightning and find, "Oh, now it's easy for me to make time for God's Word every day." I need to DISCIPLINE myself for godliness. 4) I think I'm okay the way I am. If I am focusing on the people around me, I can get complacent in my spiritual life. But if I am living a cross-centered life, I am far from being perfect in this journey of sanctification.
So I am making a new commitment to being in God's Word EVERY day this week--even if it's just 5 minutes, because I want my focus and my discipline to be helping me to become more like Christ.
1 Tim. 4:8 "For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."