It’s amazing how many times we make good starts on decisions that require discipline–only to have a disruption in our routine for a few days blow us out of the water!
Off to a Good Start!
A decision that leads to spiritual growth requires discipline. Usually it means creating time slots in our busy lives by getting rid of things that consume time but are not our highest priorities. Often the things that we need to get rid of are things that require little or no discipline–they just eat time.
But as God convicts us of projects (read more about “projects” here) that we need to undertake for spiritual growth or ministry or even our physical well-being, we may, by His grace, make the tough choices, exercise self-discipline, and begin the new project.
At first, it may be quite difficult. It is so easy to relapse into our old routines–especially when the new routine requires self-discipline. Many times our good intentions never really get off the ground. We fail to accurately count the cost. We underestimate the time required or we underestimate the weakness of our flesh when it comes time to say “no” to the old routine and “yes” to the new path of discipline.
But often, by God’s grace, we do get the new project going. We work time into our lives for memorizing Scripture, or for Bible reading, or for serious Bible study, or for serious intercessory prayer, or for physical exercise, or for quality family time, or for some specific ministry He has placed on our hearts.
After a few weeks, the new project seems to be a part of our lives. It still requires discipline. But it is now becoming part of our “routine.” By God’s grace, we are making progress! The joy and exhilaration of experiencing real growth in Christ helps keep us motivated to continue the routine. It isn’t easy, but it’s wonderful! So we continue on. And we are getting stronger in the Lord!
Blown Out of the Water
But, alas, life does not always stay the same! Planned or unexpected events frequently come along that force us to change our routines for brief period of time. It may be a vacation. It may be sickness. It may be unexpected family problems. It may be other planned events that take us away from home several evenings in a row.
When any kind of disruption of our routine comes along, whether it is a “bad” disruption (sickness, injury, family problems, etc.) or a “good” disruption such as a vacation, our new habits of self-discipline are interrupted. Sometimes it just cannot be helped!
Of course, the test comes when the time of interruption is over. Now we must get back into the routine we were in before that required the self-discipline. And that can be very difficult! While it is very easy to interrupt a routine that requires discipline, it’s not so easy to get the routine of discipline going again!
A Great Spiritual Test!
This situation–so common in life–is a great spiritual test! How do we pass it?
First, be keenly aware of this process and the weakness of our flesh immediately after a time of interruption.
Second, ask God for grace to get back into the routine of discipline He had previously worked out for us.
Third, ask someone to keep us accountable. They should ask us frequently, “How are you doing on getting your project restarted?” It would help to ask them to pray aloud with us for help in getting “back at it.”
Fourth, we may need to go back through the original thought process that caused us to see the value of beginning the project in the first place.
Discipline to Start Again
Being a disciple of Christ means being “disciplined” in our walk and spiritual growth in Him. A huge part of that discipline is not just getting projects started–it’s getting them RE-started after the frequent disruptions of life. Over a period of time, one of the marks of a Christian who has truly grown strong in the Lord is this ability to get things re-started.
Are we serious about becoming more like Christ? Then we must be serious about “getting restarted!”
God will give us the help we need if we will but recognize the problem and seek His grace!
“Father, You know our weaknesses! You know how easy it is, after a disruption of our routines, to let our flesh get the upper hand! Please forgive us! Please help us to see our situation from Your perspective! Help us find the grace and filling of Your Holy Spirit to be disciplined! In Jesus’ Name! Amen!”