I didn’t want to go to the gym this morning. And, frankly, if I hadn’t promised my wife that we were going, I probably would have blown it off. But we went and I got on the elliptical and started my workout. I decided not to push it and just let it “come to me.” This is hard because I am a “pusher.” Even though I didn’t want to be there, my tendency is to push and try to beat my best time or my best calorie burn or whatever statistic I can come up with. But this time I simply let my body lead with what it could do. About half-way through the work out, I was feeling pretty good. By the time I finished I actually came close to what my normal workout would have been (if I had gone full-bore). I had a good sweat and I was glad that I showed up. Among other things, the workout gave me the idea for this morning’s blog:
“Getting there is half the battle.”
This is true in our spiritual lives as well as our physical lives. In the spiritual disciplines of solitude, silence, Sabbath, worship, Bible reading, giving, being in community, serving in ministry, or reaching out to others, the hardest step is always the first one. It’s that decision to simply do it.
As one of my cycling training buddies told me, “The hardest part of the training ride is walking out the door and taking the bike off the rack.”
Once we decide and take that first step to spend time with Jesus or open that Bible or get ready for the worship service or write that tithe check, it’s downhill from there. God meets us at that place of faith, usually in a very powerful way.
But that first step is so hard. If “getting there is half the battle,” what can I do to help me win that half of the battle? Here are some things that have helped me:
1. Plan to do it. “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This has more to do with intentionality, than with the specific plan. If you sense God wants you to become more consistent in going to corporate worship service, then write it down on your calendar (or smart phone). Don’t just leave it in your head as an “idea.”The night before our workout, Letty and I planned to work out the following morning at 6:30am. It was intentional; we talked about it and set our sights on it.
2. Get someone to partner with you. Find someone who has a similar goal and plan to do it together. For example, if you desired to spend some time with the Lord in the morning and you have a friend who desired the same, make a covenant with them that you will both do it – and then figure out a way to hold each other accountable (maybe through email, phone call, or a meeting during the week). As I mentioned earlier, even though I had planned to work out the night before, I woke up “not feeling it.” But Letty made me do it. I would not have taken one step toward the gym if I had not already agreed with Letty to do it ahead of time. Accountability is a very strong motivator (especially if it’s your wife!)
3. Ask God for grace and strength to “get there.” The spiritual disciplines are actions that God wants us to engage in because they help us to draw near to Him and hear His voice. So to ask Him to empower us to take those first steps is a prayer He loves to answer. It’s funny that we ask God to do “big” things (like heal sickness, provide jobs, etc. – which he does do), but we are reluctant to ask Him to do the smaller, yet very significant thing, that enables us to do His will; thus glorifying Him. As it says in Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” So, let’s ask Him to do so!
4. Once we are “there” we let God take the lead. We don’t try to make things happen, the spiritual disciplines are designed to help us let go and let God. Just as I started my workout slow and “let it come to me,” so we enter into the disciplines with nothing but the expectation that God is going to meet me in this. We don’t strive to be “perfect” in our practice (that kind of defeats the purpose) nor do we try to act like “Super Christian” in what we do (like, “I’m going to pray for an hour” or “I’m going to read the entire book of Ezekiel and write a commentary on what it means”). Do not view the spiritual disciplines as bar bells and weights to gain spiritual prowess, but as doors and windows that allow our souls to encounter the Living God.
But “getting there” is half the battle. God awaits for us there, desiring to open our lives to new horizons in Whole Life Worship.