I grew up spiritually in an environment that emphasized the importance of a daily devotional. I was nurtured to read the Bible often. However, I struggled for years to make this a regular part of my daily routine. Eventually, while leading a small group of loving friends, I developed consistency in Bible reading, prayer, and journaling. This group provided a loving, accountable environment for these disciplines to develop. I needed the peer pressure of reporting every week how I had done in each of those three categories (and more!) during the last seven days to establish the regimen as a regular part of my life.
But that was almost 40 years ago. And my life and perspective have changed dramatically over these last four decades. I read through the Bible more than 17 times before I gave up on the race through the scriptures. I had memorized over 65 passages of scripture before I began to select longer passages that were significant to my life and walk with Christ. Through raising 3 kids and starting several churches I found that I needed to establish grace in my early mornings. Everything didn’t always fit into a daily devotional sequence. Life happened; we were up all night with an ailing child or mother, and I had a 6:00 am study to lead or a sermon to deliver…life happened.
I didn’t give up on a consistent time of scripture study, prayer, and journaling, it morphed. It was no longer an exercise or discipline, but rather a way of life or a lifestyle. Now, I no longer feel guilty when I miss my time in these or other practices, I feel hungry.
This is an important distinction. When I miss a physical meal, I don’t feel guilty! Do you? NO, we feel hungry. If I don’t feel hungry, I realize there is something wrong with my physical health. As my faith has matured and grown, I too get hungry for scripture, prayer, and journaling. I don’t feel guilty. As with my physical meals, if I don’t feel spiritually hungry after missing a time or two, I know something is wrong.
Several years ago, I went through a dry time where I really didn’t feel hungry. I realized that I was spiritually dry and needed some spiritual intervention. Mary Kay and I began reading together every morning, which we had not done through most of our marriage. This intervention was intentional and designed to again bring vibrancy and vitality back into my walk with Christ.
So I no longer feel guilty if I miss my spiritual time of nutrition, but I do feel hungry. And if I don’t experience hunger after a while, I know I am not well.
Oh, the grace we experience as we mature in our faith…