Only three weeks left. That’s it. Three weeks from today is New Year’s Day. And what happens on New Year’s Day?
Some of you got a bit excited at the fresh-start-ness of that phrase. Most of you cringed.
To be clear: This isn’t a general post about making and keeping New Year’s Resolutions. This is about a specific New Year’s Resolution. One that I have heard countless Christians tell me that they make year after year after year.
I resolve: To be more consistent in my time in God’s Word.
Ever made that resolution? How did it go?
As you know, my passion is helping people fall in love with God’s Word. As you might not know, I didn’t fall in love with the Bible myself until I had already been a Christian for 20 years. Sure, I believed it was true. But love it? Occasionally. But not daily.
And so, each year as January rolled around, I would resolve to read it more regularly. Then February would roll around…and well…you know how it goes.
First, my assumptions:
- You have been in the same boat.
- You have made this same New Year’s Resolution.
- You are thinking about making it again.
- If you’re honest with yourself, you are at least half-expecting you’ll need to make it again a year from now.
If these assumptions don’t apply to you, you are now free to stop reading and get back to your Sudoku puzzle. If these assumptions do apply to you…I have three questions that will help. But they need to be asked now.
1. Why am I making this resolution?
Not answering this question is detrimental. Not just a bad idea. Detrimental. If you don’t know why you are doing something, forcing yourself to do it will ultimately lead to failure.
So…I ask you again: Why are you making this resolution? Is it because you think God wants you to? Is it because you think you are supposed to? Is it because other people at your church, in your youth group, or in your small group are doing it?
If you want to follow through and be consistent, the why must be tied to the relationship.
Bible reading isn’t just learning about God. It’s about sitting with Him, hearing from Him, being comforted – and challenged – by Him, and entering into His story. It is about the relationship. It is for the relationship. It is centered on the relationship.
I don’t know who originally said it, but I have heard several people say,
When you lose your why, you lose your way.
This is absolutely true when striving to be consistent in our Bible reading.
2. What specific actions am I going to take?
Being more consistent sounds like a resolution, but it’s not. Until there are specific actions mapped out, it is just a good idea.
When will you spend time with God? How will you go about it? What’s the plan? Will you read in the morning, on your lunch break, or at night? Will you read a book of the Bible, explore a specific topic, or read the Bible cover to cover? (I’ll share my plan – and an invitation to join me – in next week’s post.)
What will you give up to make it happen? For me, it’s sleep. As painful as it is, I have never found a way to be consistent other than by getting up early. While I truly enjoy being up in the morning, I really dislike the getting up part. But it is the only time that works. Thank God for coffee.
What is it for you? Sleep? Television? Facebook? The comics and daily crossword?
One more thing about taking specific actions: You have to tell someone your plan. Writing it down is good. Putting it on a sticky note somewhere you can see it is even better. Saying it out loud to a real live human being is better still.
There is something about looking into another person’s eyes and saying, I am going to get up at 6am, read the book of Colossians, and spend five minutes in silence and ten in prayer. Would you email me every week or two and see how I’m doing?
3. What am I going to do when I fail?
I know, failure is not supposed to be an option. So let’s not call it “failure.” What are you going to do when “life happens?” You know, when you get the 48-hour flu, then each of your kids gets it back-to-back, and you realize you are out of the habit for a week or two.
First off, see Question #1. If you are clear on your “why,” you will be more likely to want to get back at it. You won’t feel like you have somehow failed God. You will miss that time with Him. But only if your why is about the relationship.
The plan you developed in answering Question #2 will be huge at this point. If you can look at the specific actions you applied to get started, you will know what you need to do to get back on track. You will be able to identify the time wasters you got rid of in January. If you told someone, you will know that the email or phone call is on its way. And you’ll be way more likely to take action.
Three questions. Three weeks. Answer them now. And make a note to let me know how things are going three months into the new year.
Questions: If consistency is something you do well, what one tip do you have for those who are just starting? What recommendation do you have for where in the Bible someone should start?
Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net – pakorn