My church began to study a book called, A Life that Wins, by Mike Holt on the first weekend in September. We are reading the book and doing daily studies and small group studies and a sermon series from this book. The first chapter was routine information for any time that we want to make a lasting change in our lives. Though the wording was a little different than other books, the same principles are introduced in most "programs" that will help you get out of a rut. The twist is that in the midst of doing something for yourself, you are encouraged to do a personal outreach as well. This is reaching out to someone that is unchurched to just be a friend and introduce them to a relationship with Christ. I'm so not good at that!
So during that first chapter we were challenged to make a hinge decision for our personal goals. My hinge decision was in the area of fitness. I followed the instructions and wrote out a plan. I made it detailed with the goal, steps toward the goal, deadlines and rewards. I am literally worse off now in week 4 than week 1. I am 4 pounds heavier and much lazier than I was when I started. It's as if a rebellion has risen up within me against getting out of bed in the morning to exercise. When I eat an unhealthy thing, I eat 4 because I already slipped up. The thoughts have welled up within me about not ever really starting in the first place and we're already 4 weeks in and so I might as well coast through the rest. I can lose weight and become fit another day. My unchurched friend is churched after all. I'm teaching our small group and I'm probably the biggest failure in my class.
HAHA! Mike apparently knew I'd feel this way because this week's first lesson, first paragraph says, "It is an important week because at the half-way point of any kind of spiritual commitment you make, fatigue can settle in, the enemy can come against you, and you can either choose to backpedal on your hinge decision or allow it to become permanent in our life." ~Week 4 Day 22 I'm not just backpedalling, I haven't really pedaled anywhere to backpedal from! I am really enjoying the readings in this book and would recommend it to anyone who is curious about it. I feel that there is a richness to different parts of the Word that he brings out. That is not the sole intent of this book, so I'm back in the same place that I land so often. In the middle of a challenge and have missed the mark so far that I'm feeling done.
Farmers who wait for perfect weather...Last Sunday as our Pastor's wife read a portion of the Bible before offering time, I was triggered by another phrase and looked it up. Yes, I get sidetracked easily! The passage was Ecclesiastes 11:4 "Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest." NLT I've been reading each daily reading of this book with that scripture in mind. I have been meditating on it for the whole week so far.
What is perfect weather? Well for me and the goal of fitness, it usually means the beginning of a week. Monday and not Sunday because we have a different schedule on Sundays than any other day of the week. It means that I'm beginning a new book, devotional or diet kick starter. It means I'm waiting for someone who truly wants to be my partner in accountability is ready at the same time as I am. It means after I make out a better menu and go to the grocery store or get a perfect night's sleep. I can wait and wait for perfect weather, but I will never begin my journey with fitness.
Spiritually speaking, what is perfect weather? When I get my life straightened out first, then I will start on the thing God is calling me to. After I quit smoking I will start going to church. When my friend asks me about church, I will invite them to join me. When I don't have any appointments for a week, I will do a 7 day fast. When I make enough money, I will start to tithe.
Perfect weather is a VERY rare thing. Sometimes it comes along, but I'm married to a farmer and he is a master at this. Even if we get rain that we've been praying for, I will be excited and bring it up with him. It either rained too much (extremely rare), too little, too much wind with it, too quick, not in the right field. I tease my husband often about never being satisfied or being pessimistic, but farmers are more in tune with the weather than most. I was hoping my husband would come home early from corn harvesting last night because of the rain we got the night before, but as soon as the ground was able to hold a combine, he was back in the field to harvest. Bring it in! If a cloudy day or a forecast of rain scared him out of the field, the grain would rot without ever being harvested. If they waited for ideal planting conditions, they may not get the planting done.
Figuratively speaking, there are always situations that would scare us "out of the field." I like to call them reasons, but really they are excuses. There is an old hymn that say, "Just as I am..." God does take us just as we are. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." NIV It doesn't say that when the weather of our lives is perfect, His death is for us. Truly, if we were to try to be good or do good without His grace or Holy Spirit, we would be unsuccessful. Sure, back in week 1 the weather for me was more perfect because as a linear thinker actually starting something in the middle of the process. Regardless, I need to make today my starting point or else I will never start.