In a matter of single digit weeks, we are expecting our first child. In some ways this is obviously a very exciting time, and in other ways I have no idea what I have signed myself up for.
The last few weeks though I have had a similar thought on my mind, 'You always said you would try to get fit before you had a baby'...Yeah.... I remember that thought. I had already told my wife 'when I weigh X amount of kilos, I have to start working out', and I saw that date go by...and... I didn't do anything about it. So, with baby receiving its eviction notice quite soon, I had to front up to my thoughts and plunge in the only way I knew how â with fitness counting apps.
These apps/devices/programs are everywhere. They can count the amount of steps you take and tell you (particularly in my case) how many more steps you need to take. They are a good, simple aid and there are many free versions as well as some that cost into the hundreds of dollars.
So I got my fit device and my fit app, and I started with walking, and my best attempt at jogging. Now let me be clear, I am not the fitness sort. Before this the closest I got to continuous exercise was playing soccer on the PlayStation.
With this in mind, I started to set small goals, daily goals, to try and reach my over-arching goal of 'fit' and maybe a few kilos lighter. As I started to achieve some of these smaller goals and become a little bit more motivated, it helped me see a parallel to my spiritual life, and walk with God.
Sometimes it seems easy to do all the spiritual discipline things that come with trying to live a life faithful to our loving heavenly father. Then there are those other times when it feels like it's all on me and it is only my willingness to open the book that has become a little dusty as it sits beside my bed.
We know the love of our God is constant and never changes. We know that he has made a way through his son to win all of creation and his people back to himself. Yet sometimes it can feel like he is distant from us and that his love is like that dusty book.
Sometimes practicing being a Christian can be simply hard work. But it is times like these that I find that the one thing we need is to be reminded of God's unfailing love for us. Passages like Psalm 136, David's prayer in 1 Chronicles chapter 16, and of course there is the classic chapter of Romans 8, particularly verses 38 â 39:
<sup>38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, <sup>39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Getting back on track
So then, in those times when we feel far from God or our spiritual disciplines are not at their best we know that God loves us. Then, like fitness, instead of thinking about how far off we are from our loving God, how about we think about the little things that we can do to get 'back on track'?
- Why not try simply opening your bible today?
- Try reading it for 5 mins? Why not be reminded of your favourite passage?
- Why not allow God a chance to speak back to you?
- How is your prayer life? Why not find a friend to pray with?
When we start towards consistency we start towards discipline. Habits take time to form again, and even if we are 'out of shape', getting back in shape can be a hard road.
There are plenty of bible reading plans available. Like the fitness apps that simply help us on our way, there are bible reading and prayer apps for your phone. If you are more old school, then there are bible reading books, and prayer books to help encourage us whatever stage of spiritual discipline fitness we are currently at.
At the end of the day, we know that God loves us through his Son. We know the Holy Spirit helps us on to love and good deeds.
And in those times when we aren't reading our bible much, or not praying much, it can be hard to start again, or keep it up. But know, that when it is regular when we are in the rinse and repeat cycle, then many other Godly disciplines flow out much more easily.
Spiritual disciplines are hard. But, like fitness, that can simply be because we aren't good at them. My own disciplines go up and down much like yours. How about this week you put the time into your schedule/phone/calendar for bible reading and prayer? If you don't know where to start the Psalms are a great place. I pray that you will have a wonderfully refreshing time in God's living word, and will be moulded by him to grow and mature more into the likeness of Christ.
Stephen Urmston is based in Melbourne and is completing a Masters of Divinity at Ridley College. He is currently employed as an associate Children's and Family minister.
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