Join me as I wrestle with those hard questions that come up and pull at our hearts. The “What if…” series is a weekly journey into the process of refinement that occurs when we seek hard after Him. I’d love to have you join me as I look at the ideas that are presented right in His Word for us to reason together and find Him. ( Is. 1:18)
This week hasn’t been one of my best. I have floundered through, simply breathing, as I meander by faith rather than marching as a triumphant warrior. We all have those days, or maybe weeks, or months, .. or even years, right? It can be so discouraging when we look back and see the patterns we have forged during the days we have merely pressed through. Those paths are often crooked and broken, hard to follow, and actually take longer to reach the destination.
Sometimes I think about the Israelites wandering in the desert when I look back upon weeks like this, in my life. It took them 40 years to make a journey that should have taken days to complete. Likewise, my winding paths often require more energy, work, and time to complete my purposed goal. I don’t want to live life in a grumbling complaining way that forces me to miss the promised land and I don’t want to miss the beauty of Kingdom living.
This leads me to the the question I am wrestling real with today:
What if you made Christ your habit, how would it change your life today, tomorrow, and the future?
Surely, the presence of God in my present is going to be dynamically life altering, but I want to look deeper. The instance of His presence in our lives isn’t the problem, it is the existence of His fullness in every second of my living that creates a life that is lived as a legacy.
Let’s look at a few key words from the question: habit and change.
Charlotte Mason, a British educator from the early 1900’s, who believed that all children have the ability to learn and grow , said the following about the word habit.
“Habit is ten natures. If that is true, strong as nature is, habit is not only as strong, but tenfold as strong. Habit rules 99 in 100 of our thoughts.”
Let’s look to the Word:
Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
A habit is a pattern which we perform, often unconsciously, acquired as a learned behavior. Some synonyms of habit are: practice, custom, use, and usage. When we learn a habit, it usually forms in the part of the brain which controls our emotions and memories, in order to create a pattern. Once that pattern is routine, the ‘thinking part’ of the brain disengages from the process and the ‘habit’ part takes over. The decision to act comes from the cortex part of our brain and allows us to perform a habitual task without any mental awareness.
Typically, I have heard that a habit is formed after 21 days of repetition. Continually training ourselves in a specific habit forms a pathway in our brain that makes it physically possible to perform that same action without thinking. Like anything, this happens with both good habits and bad habits. And without change in the routine, the bad habits continue to rule us, often becoming idols in our lives.
Galatians 6:4: ”Let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work.”
We need to check our habits often enough so that what we do and what we ought to do are one in the same.
This morning I began thinking of some of the habits, both good and bad, which make up the course of my day. Habits set the structure for the day, providing a context for the productivity (or lack thereof) which follows as a result. Sometimes my inability to really operate in a structured environment can impede my desired success for that day. Sometimes perspective and habits collide, both good and bad, creating an impression upon our homes and our families.
I thought of the few I do routinely every day:
- Look out the window to assess the weather.
- Sit in my comfy chair, reading my Bible, and journaling.
- Soaking in quiet time with reflection and prayer
- REHEAT the coffee!
- Greeting the kids; starting school work.
- Checking my mail, texts, etc.
- Reheat the coffee, again!
- Jump on the treadmill w/ my nook.
- And …
That is just the morning pattern, which I follow loosely noting that there will always be a few of the items reversed or changed on the timeline and even missed altogether.
I usually make coffee right away, if my husband hasn’t already done that chore. That first cup of coffee is a real treat. It always tastes so good right away in the morning. Then my middle child, the early riser, might be getting up. He usually finds a spot on the couch to crash and wake up a bit more, but even then he is rarely quiet. If he is up I may move to the porch, but it depends how cold it might be out there, so lately I camp out in the comfy chair.
Some days I just sit and ask the Lord to fill me with His presence, inviting Him to sit with me. Entreating Him, actually, because I know that I need His fullness to start my day. Those precious moments are so filling, yet, sometimes I miss this step as I begin my day. It didn’t matter how early I got up, one of my kids would get up with me. I have learned to have my quiet time right there with them… teaching a habit, right.
When I can get this quiet time, it usually involves my Bible and Journal nearby waiting for me to retrieve and open. Studying His Words and writing what He shares are one of the main ways I hear from the Lord. Usually the things I put on paper there become text of what I write to you here. Grabbing onto the truths that pull me closer to His heart are a lifeline, but I can get so easily distracted when the kids wake up and once again with the schedules looming large in my field of vision, that special time can easily be cast aside. I have often required that the kids go back up to their room for their own time of quiet study and reflection on their day so that I can have mine.
I have tried to teach them, to make this a daily pilgrimage. Some days, however, it is clear that we haven’t made an effort to make it a habit the way we need to and then I have to remind them of the need to meet with Jesus before we meet with others. (Which also helps me remember, too.) Each time I am trusting in the truth of Proverbs 22:6, that the process of training them (creating habits) in the way they should go, will not depart from their memory.
If I don’t meet with Jesus, I am not always the best me I can be.
When I fail in my day, it isn’t because of the schedule, or the trials, or the issues that will always arise, it is because I have not made a habit to live out holiness. If I am not first meeting the Holy One to prepare for what is ahead, then I am neither ready to meet my children and minister to them, or deal with the day ahead. I am not I ready to conquer and overcome the trials, or receive the blessings that are awaiting me each day. The habit of holiness puts us in a heavenly perspective that prepares us for Kingdom living. Lately, I have been even more convicted that the preparation for my tomorrow actually begins the night before, on my knees. (Another habit to engrain deep within my heart and mind.)
Here are a few scriptures toencourage your study on making habits of holiness:
- Exercise the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5: 22-25)
- Train yourself for Kingdom living. ( 1 Timothy 4:7)
- Reject the things in this world that pull you away from godliness and grace. ( Titus 2:11)
- Crucify your flesh and walk in the Spirit. ( Romans 8:1-2)
- Purpose to be thankful. ( Psalm 103:1-5, Psalm 100)
So, friends, let me say that this is not a lesson I have learned and am teaching in wisdom, but it is a lesson I am learning and sharing in humility.
Will you walk this walk with me?
Will you make the habit of putting on His holiness, basking in His presence, seeking Him in prayer and the Word, and resting in His Spirit?
I am certain that the more that we do this, seeking hard after Holiness, allowing Him to sanctify our souls for His glory.. then the habits we form will be the life-changing moments that alter our legacy for Kingdom living.
When we renew our minds, not conforming to the world but being transformed by His Word, then the pattern of our living will resemble a collection of intentional moments reflecting a life of order and structure.
Make it a habit to clothe yourself in Christ, making no provision for the things that can cause a detour or become an idol. (Romans 13:14) When you do this, you can walk in full assurance that as your day ebbs away on the time-clock of history you will be experience moments tinged with blessing patterned by a habitual life.
Praying your heart is opened to the blessing of making Christ your habit.