Monday, January 5, 2009

A Disciplined Devotional Life

I never seriously do New Year's Resolutions. Could it be because I am always making resolutions, no matter the time of year? While I'm always earnest in desiring to eliminate bad habits, or institute better ones, I lack the most important element of success - discipline. The George Bush article I posted really drove it home that discipline is essential. I envy those who exercise it consistently. How do they do it? Is it because their kids are grown and they have lighter emotional loads? Do they have more extended family around for support, ensuring that they get frequent breathers? Am I just inherently lazy, compared to these self-disciplined people?

Oh, don't get me wrong. I have discipline in regards to some things. I drink enough water, I stick to my guns with the kids, I floss and brush religiously, I only buy whole grain and lowfat food (except chocolate). But those things are fairly easy; they don't stretch me much.

Some things on my resolution list would require me to merely post notes around the house as reminders, such as snacking more on vegetables and praising the kids more. I like to do both, but I get lost in my thoughts or in my chores and I forget. Improving in these areas isn't so much a matter of discipline; I like doing them.

Here's the shameful bombshell. Sadly, for me, it's prayer and Bible reading that require the most discipline. And yet, it wasn't always like this. When I was 31 and first saved, it wasn't unusual for me to read the Bible on the weekends for five hours at a time. I loved talking about it, studying it, hearing teaching about it. Did the Lord create that passion in me so I could prepare for meeting Don, my husband-to-be, who had been saved since seven years old, and was Bible College educated? Obviously, he was looking for someone with some spiritual maturity, which, as a brand-new Christian, I was lacking. All I know is that I had such deep passion for prayer and Bible reading back then. I was head over heels in love with both.

I long for that same passion to return. May it be so, Lord. I want it back. It saddens me that I do these things out of obligation now. Praising God and personal prayers for my immediate family needs are not neglected, but more all-encompassing prayers, such as for the neighborhood, or for the church body, or for our leaders, are uttered less often. There is no disciplined regimen in my devotional life, now that I'm a busy wife and mother. I know how important it is, believe me. I know I can't afford to neglect it. That's why I'm appalled that it's so hard for me to stick with a structured program. The only excuse I can think of is that mothering young ones takes so much out of me, that when I have extra minutes, I desperately need them to wind down emotionally. Thus, I cut these things short.

My passion for the Lord remains unchanged. In fact, it grows stronger with time. Is that passion and love for him enough for now? Can he understand my lack of interest in organized study? Is a few times a week in the Bible sufficient for a harried mom? I know Scripture can wash me clean and speak to me. I know it can change me, but sometimes I just feel like it's a duty and I'm merely going through the motion, rather than growing from it. Reading Peterson's The Message (New Testament paraphrased in everyday language) is more enjoyable for me and I find that I read a lot more at each sitting when I use it. I can feel it speaking to me, even when my concentration level is low and I have a lot on my mind.

I know that I'm less effective for the Lord without a disciplined devotional life, so I'm asking for your tips. How have you, as busy moms, accomplished this discipline in your life?

1 comment:

Liz said...

I'm right there with ya sister! I requested (and received) a one year chronological Bible for Christmas and I have resolved to read through the entire Bible this year. The trick for me so far, Oh Lord let me be faithful, is to not touch my computer until I have finished my Bible reading.

Just catching up on posts for the last while... you sure do have your hands full!