My daughter had an opportunity to sleep in after a later than usual night out with some girlfriends. As an elementary school teacher with an active family, it was a rare opportunity. So when she felt a little hand in hers, she very reluctantly willed herself awake, opening her eyes to find her son smiling expectantly. “What’s up buddy?” she asked thinking there must be a problem.
She confirmed it with a smile warmed by her heart. With that he quietly slipped under the covers to snuggle with sleepy mom.
That’s the way I imagine God wants me to start my days – putting my hand in His and stilling myself before him with adoration.
My grandson is not always the gentle snuggler type – he’s just too excited to tackle the thrills of life! We think he takes after his Uncle Joe, whom he adored. There was always adventure when visiting. Joe’s toys included a snowmobile, three white water kayaks, a motorcycle, a boat, a quad, oodles of fishing gear, hunting equipment and about 15 snowboards. But between his adventures and the miles between us, Joe often missed family gatherings and holidays. When he received a cancer diagnosis that realigned his priorities, who and what was occupying his attention changed.
I have a friend who shares my love for organization. She has developed a detailed plan for life. It contains intervals for vacations, a timetable for paying off the house, for retiring, for post-retirement activities, and I suspect it contains a thorough budget. A week ago, however, the schedule was interrupted by something unanticipated – cancer.
The diagnosis forced a fresh perspective, one that we can easily lose sight of amid the ups and downs of life. It is proof that we don’t have as much control as we may think. And while the news is drawing her attention back to Jesus, it’s also prompting reflection. How did He get omitted from the timeline, and more importantly, how do I put Him back where he belongs?
Over the years I’ve found myself in that same position – realizing that to some degree I’d drifted away from my Savior. It’s never been a conscious decision, it’s just that life gets busy, or exciting, or comfortable, or whatever, and I became distracted. I had failed to develop, or I relaxed, the spiritual disciplines that keep me tethered to God.
There are many spiritual disciplines – those habits or practices that help us focus and develop a deeper relationship with Christ. Mine have changed during the different seasons of my life. There was a period when I was working full time and my home was full of children whose activities spread us thin, and my only discipline was church once a week when schedules allowed. I was not mature enough in my faith to set boundaries and establish the priorities to assure spiritual growth.
Sometimes it takes a crisis to shake us from a spiritual slumber, reminding us of our need for Christ. That has been the case for me. Those moments, when I suddenly became aware of my sin of busy distraction and disregard for Him, occasionally came with guilt for having wandered. But as I get to know Him better, I think God feels more like my daughter did waking to her dear child’s still, adoring face.
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent… In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:3-7, 10)
There are many habits or disciplines that help draw us to God. I love rising early to spend quiet time in prayer and reading my Bible or working through a Bible Study. Attending a weekly study with other women holds me accountable and allows me to discuss the Scriptures with the group and pray for each other. I look forward to weekly worship and supporting the church financially and through my participation. I hope to never miss a women’s retreat because it offers all of the above. The important thing is that we establish spiritual disciplines to keep us from going adrift. The effort will draw us close to Christ and make a difference for His kingdom!