Discipline to Desire: The Tale Time Tells

Remember getting a new toy as a kid – a video game, a Hot Wheels, a Barbie – and spending all day playing with it? Even though it had been hours, it felt like mere minutes and you were never ready to put it away when mom called for dinner or when dad said it was time for bed.

Remember spending hours talking to your special someone long after the date was supposed to end? Again, minutes quickly turned into hours as you both lose track of time, lost in the conversation and joy of each others’ company.

Or how about picking up a new hobby? It is effortless to spend hours researching anything and everything related to the new interest and a day spent devoted to enjoying the new activity flies by.

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The principle is simple: we spend time, money, and energy on the things that we love.

Which got me thinking…

If I love God more than anything else in my life, why do I spend so much time on so many other things? I spend more time at work, sleeping, eating, watching TV, working out, and even walking my dog then I do with God most days. Now, I’m not suggesting we should quit our jobs, pull all nighters or stop eating! But I am suggesting that in order to have a genuine, life giving relationship with God, I need to spend time with him. If I want to know how God feels about me and my life, I have to spend time so he can speak to me. I’m suggesting that if I love God more than anything else, my thoughts should be consumed with him, I should long for the work day to end so I can meet with him, and I should be longing to say good morning to him as soon as I wake each day!

Spending time with God often starts as an act of discipline and unfortunately it often stays there. My prayer is that discipline turns into desire, that an act of obedience becomes an act of love.

I was reading Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young and the devotion for January 2nd said, “Do not skimp on our time together. Resist the clamor of tasks waiting to be done. You have chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from you.”

May I no longer “skimp” on time spent with Jesus! May my daily discipline to spend time with the Lord become a desire that burns deep within. And may the sweet time spent never feel like enough!

“The one thing I ask of the Lord – the thing I seek most –ย is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his temple.” ~Psalms 27:4

“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” ~Psalms 42:1

Choice versus Decision: Why Resolutions Fail

We are not even two weeks into the new year and most of ourย resolutions are likely already a distant memory. Why is it that the desire to change is so strong on January 1 and has already faded by the following week? Time and time again I’ve resolved to make some specific positive change in my life only to find myself right back where I started, sick with regret and self-loathing at my apparent lack of self-control, will power, and discipline. Why can’t I leave the Oreos alone? Why is it so difficult to wake up just thirty minutes earlier to spend time with Jesus? Why does the drive to the gym seem so far despite being just blocks away? What goes wrong?!

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In my personal and professional experience, it comes down to the difference between a decision and a choice. Wait…aren’t those the same thing? No, not really.

A choice is defined asย the act of picking. It is the process that happens in line at a fast food restaurant – do I want a number 2 or a number 5? Fries or tots (always tots)? Do I want chocolate or vanilla (both, the answer is always both)? Do I like the red one or the blue one? It is an instant selection made with very little thought.

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A decision is much bigger than a choice. A decision is defined as a conclusion reached after consideration. A decision is marked by greater thought and deeper determination than given to a simple choice. A decision reflects values and goals. A decision eliminates the need for choice. If I decide to go to the gym everyday after work, I no longer have to make a daily choice because the decision has already been made. If I decide to spend time with Jesus every morning, I no longer have to make a choice because the decision has already been made. If I decide to eat more vegetables and less junk food, I no longer have to make a choice between fries and tots because the decision is side salad.

Choices maintain status quo. Decisions create paths for change.

Choices are an individual and independent process. They must be made alone. Decisions allow for community support, help, and encouragement from others.

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Choices isolate you. Decisions invite others to join in your journey.

Choices can create confusion and complications. Decisions simplify and clarify the change process and pave the way for personal growth.

God longs to guide and strengthen us in our desires to grow. He’s the one longing for us to look more and more like Jesus and like the person He designed us to be. The Bible uses the word steadfast frequently, and though not a perfect synonym to decision, I believe they are in the same vain. Steadfast is defined as resolute and unwavering.

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Look at some of the verses where the word “steadfast” appears:

“My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.” Psalm 57:7

“Oh that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!” Psalm 119:5

“Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.” 2 Chronicles 27:6

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

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“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” Proverbs 4:26

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10

I love that last verse! It promises that making decisions and sticking with them is difficult and that we will have to suffer through the process. But it also promises that God will provide the strength we need. We do not need to rely on our own will power, we can tap into God’s supernatural power! Amen!