Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A New Habit

It seems to me that there are certain events that happen in our lives that motivate us to make resolutions or declarations of change. New Years, a birthday, a class reunion, a wedding, a death, or the start of a new career. We seek out every possible strategy to improve things or, at the very least, put the odds of improvement in our favor. We meal plan, food prep, schedule, and create to-do lists that leave us exhausted, overwhelmed, and defeated before we even start.

Then there are those of us like me that don't rely on events. We turn to books. Our goal is to read our way to being better. We self-identify what we would like to change and find the best books we possibly can to try and help us fix it. For example, right now I have 7 books loosely related to the concept of rest. I talk about needing rest more than anything else. Ironically it is also what I resist more than anything else.

But sometimes those very books give us a cold dose of reality that forces us to acknowledge what we're likely to adamantly deny. Why? Because we're caught completely off guard by some nugget of truth and wisdom unrelated to the information we were seeking that makes us face it head on.

"Our sufferings do not produce belief or unbelief of the Lord in our lives;
rather our sufferings will reveal our belief or unbelief in Jesus."
Julie Manning, My Heart

Faith. In the book book subtitled 'Every beat surrendered to our unchanging God.'

Faith is such a tricky concept. Hebrews tells us that faith is confidence in what we cannot see and the assurance of what we hope for. For years I've been telling myself that my faith is strong and that I know God is for me and working things for my good. But the reality is there is a part of me - bigger than it should be - that just goes with the flow of what happens more than I expect to see God move on my behalf.

As Julie continues to write she shares this:

"I am daily choosing to trust the Word of God over my fears and uncertainties. In this 
I find freedom and peace to live for today and not worry about what tomorrow holds."

To me that sounds amazing, and almost impossible. Almost.

The only thing that makes this kind of life a remote possibility is in the daily choosing. But the daily choosing is going to require practice. Lots and lots of practice. And the practice must go beyond reading the words on the page to get them to take root in both the mind and heart. Believe me, I've tried to do just the reading and it hasn't worked yet. Why? Because our faith demands to be heard. Out loud. As often as necessary. In our own voices.

Honestly, we need to start talking to ourselves. Okay, maybe not in public places, but at the very least in the private spaces of our time with God. We (or at least I) tell myself what I know is true but I don't fully believe it because I'm just rambling inside my head a list of things I've memorized that I cling to when things go awry. But what if I actually said them? Think about it. If we verbally commit to something, aren't we more likely to follow through with what we said we'd do? Woudn't this be the same? We verbally commit to what we believe and then it really starts to take root? Isn't that inherent in the words of Romans 10:17, that our faith will come from hearing? As far as I know, our hearing requires the use of our ears.

Perhaps this is old hat information and you are yawning bored out of your mind with what's been obvious to you for years. But if business leaders and successful entrepreneurs in the secular realm use daily affirmations to motivate, encourage, and inspire themselves, shouldn't we as believers, at the very least, use the words God has graciously given us over our lives daily, too? 

And bonus! We can start easy.....

Lord, you promise that when I come to you that you will give me rest. I believe that you are going to give me your rest, whatever that might look like in my life. Amen. 

Or maybe.....

Lord, I know that my prayers are offered as incense that rises up to you. You hear me when I speak and I believe you will answer in your perfect timing. Amen (Seriously, I think the coolest thing I've learned recently is Revelation 5:8)

If we are ever going to win the battle that rages in our mind, we have to use the word of God to do it because it's the only thing that can renew our thoughts. But if the danger is in our minds in the first place, we have to use our very audible words to declare what we say we believe is true. Because when we do, not only will our faith grow, but we'll gain the confidence God wants us to have in Him. While I don't know how that sounds to you, it sounds great to me. 

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