written by Andrew Kamm, pastor at Christ Community Church in Champaign, Urbana Theological Seminary Alumnus
Let me open up with a bit of straight talk. This may surprise you, but carving out space in my day to read the Bible, pray, and relish the presence of God is not something that comes naturally for me. In fact, there are times when I am just bad at it. Inconsistency is likely as much a problem for me as it is for anyone else.
One reason for this inconsistency is the lack of perceived results from an hour spent in study and prayer and seeking God. Often I get to the end of an hour and I feel like nothing happened. Another reason for my inconsistency stems from the lack of a good plan. Finally, whenever I do get into a rhythm of devoting time to these ancient practices I find there is a rat’s nest of motivations, good and bad, all tied closely together. I begin to feel a sense of pride for my commitment. When this happens I want to run from it, so I leave good habits in the name of promoting grace over legalism.
Let’s face it. We’re all kind of a wreck when it comes to these things. On the one hand we believe it would be good for us, but because we rarely “feel” like making the space and when we don’t see the change we wanted, we often leave these good practices behind and end up feeling guilt-ridden.
So let me make this simple for you. The most explosive, dynamite attack on self-righteousness and pride is to honestly read the Bible, pray and seek after fellowship with God. Like any relationship, a good plan will help you stay the course. And when it comes to change, you have to remember that believing the gospel is momentary, but transformation is a long-distance run.
Over the summer, I read Colossians more days than I didn’t. Since August, I’ve read Mark on most days. I haven’t read it everyday. Some days I enjoyed it more than others. Once or twice I really sensed God guiding me by his Holy Spirit. I struggled dealing with my mixed motives, but looking back over the last few months I do see how God’s word is being implanted in my heart and it is chiseling away at my propensity toward self-justification.
Here’s the takeaway.
1. Make a plan. When and where will you be? What will you read? I’ve found it helpful to be alone and to read over the same scriptures regularly for a period of time.
2. Don’t let bad motives paralyze you. Inevitably you will often end up with a Bible in your lap more out of duty than delight. Who cares? God’s word and His presence has the power to blow up your superficial religion. Give it a try. See if he will.
3. Pursue God like a distance runner. A super-marathoner doesn’t get too high or too low at mile 5. After all, she still has 95 miles to go. A summer pursuing God might not do much, but what about a decade or 50 years? Just imagine how God might grow you.
At the end of the day, take heart because God is pursuing you and He wants you far more than you want him.