Growing by Habit

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I don’t want to read my Bible.

I’ve just woken up. At this moment, by iPad seems more interesting to me than anything. I want to do the rounds: check Facebook, check Twitter, check my emails. Anything but begin the day.

Sometimes I give in. When this happens, 15 or 20 minutes goes by before I catch myself. I never feel good about getting sucked in .

Other days I make a beeline to my kitchen table, open my Bible, and begin the day the way I’d decided in advance. Some days my good habits put me in the path of grace.

Good Habits, Bad Habits

We all live by habit. Habits are actions that we do without much thought. Good habits serve us; bad habits hurt us.

When I wake up and go right to my iPad, I’m engaging in a bad habit. It’s not the worst habit, but it’s still a bad one. I know that mornings are my best time. I know myself: if I don’t pursue God early in the morning, it’s not likely to happen. Going online first thing in the morning takes time away from what I purposed to do. It puts me in reactionary mode.

(Note: there’s nothing wrong with checking your tablet or phone first thing in the morning if you decide that habit works for you.)

I’ve been building a better habit for my mornings. I know that I need God’s Word in the morning. I’ve built a series of steps that I take almost every day: I sit in the same place. I open my Bible. I read a couple of devotional books. I journal. I pray.

Habits help me pursue actions that put me in the path of grace. Good habits help us pursue God.

Habits help me pursue actions that put me in the path of grace. Good habits help us pursue God.

Habits Matter

“Your perseverance, under God, is in your habits,” writes David Mathis. “Heaven and hell hangs on habits. Show me a man’s habits, and you’ll give me a glimpse into his very soul. The habits you develop and sustain today will affect whether you persevere till the end or make shipwreck of the faith.”

“Simply put, your habits are one of the most important things about you.”

I agree. The power isn’t in the habits themselves. After all, the Pharisees were experts at keeping habits, but missed the point. Habits are tools. When used properly, habits serve us in our pursuit of God.

We all need certain habits: Scripture reading, prayer, participation in the life of the church. I don’t know anyone who grows spiritually without at least these habits. The way we practice these habits will differ, but our future hangs on how well we build these habits into our lives.

Habits Meet Life

I recently listened to a panel of mature believers describe how they had built these habits into their lives. I was refreshed by their honesty. Almost everyone struggled to be consistent with these habits. Almost everyone kept them differently. Some were retired and had more time, but I didn’t get the sense that things had gotten easier. Others had little kids running around the house, and understandably found it hard.

The habits will look different in all of our lives. We won’t keep them perfectly, and there’s grace for us when we fail.

Tomorrow morning when I wake up, I may not feel like reading Scripture. But that’s where good habits help.

We’ll all practice them differently, but the right habits will help us pursue God even — especially — when we don’t feel like it.

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