In a training this past Sunday, Brent reiterated the importance of setting time apart for God in every part of one's day. The mindset he offered was incredibly helpful in reminding me personally of one of the core reasons why I spend time with God:
"I want to be available to God and unavailable to the world so that I can recognize and hear His voice when it matters. Let me take this seriously, even if it means that for 15 minutes in the mornings I’m trying to not fall asleep. We want to get to a place where we have consistency in which God can intervene if necessary. We just want to be open. For x amount of time everyday for the first portion of the day, if You need to catch my attention or get a hold of me, that’s when I’ll notice."
My goal for this week has been to reengage with that simple practice. When I began to do that yesterday morning the Lord convicted me about how much time I've spent at the gym compared to how much time I've intentionally spent with Him this week. I felt His quiet voice say You're spending 2 hours at the gym every day and you can't set aside time to spend with me? It was accompanied by a warning about how quickly idols can take root in my own heart. Stop working out with your trainer, I felt like I heard. I was SO quick to say 'no' that it surprised me -- the Lord brought to my attention that THAT was the issue that He was concerned about: my adamant lack of willingness to give something up at His command.
I immediately knew I had a heart problem I needed to check.
It wasn't hard for me to diagnose the reason for my response, other than my humanness. I am SO happy right now with where I'm at in the gym -- I'm finally training at a high level again, I can genuinely say that I love my body and I'm making a lot of progress with my strength. I'm just really happy. The time I spend in the gym is truly an escape. The fact that my knee-jerk reaction to the Lord was a hard 'no' exposes the parts of me that still struggle to believe that God cares about my happiness and that He is a good Dad. On the contrary, deep down I fear that He'll take my happiness away and that, if I'm not in control of my happiness, it's not safe. Like any good father, though, once His child begins to have an unhealthy amount of a good thing, He'll take it away. It's all for the health and protection of the child, even if it doesn’t feel like that at the time.
The truth is, God wants to give us the best if we'd just get out of our own way and let Him. This is a truth that I constantly have to remind myself.
After spending more time in prayer and self-reflection, and after consulting a multitude of counselors, I decided that the warning came as a means of revealing what was in my heart, the potential for too much of this good thing to turn into an idol. In response, I plan to do a few things:
I love the Lord's intentionality, though. In the three weeks since I began being trained I have learned an incredible amount about my own mental strength and toughness. In a way, it has been revitalized. You learn a lot about pushing past your limits when you have someone standing over your shoulder telling you that you can finish out the third twenty-rep set before throwing more weight on the bar. I say this because it's applicable -- even when I don't think I can create a space for God, or even if I don't want to at the moment, I know I can do it, no matter how tired or uncomfortable I might be. I also know that I can be consistent if I really, truly put my mind to it. Granted, there's grace in all of this because God knows more than anybody how hard consistency has been for me in the past. However, what I've learned throughout the years, and what I will continue to learn, is that the Lord cares far more about trying and faithfulness than He does about the outcome. Did you fall asleep 8 minutes into your quiet time with Him? Yeah, but that was after trying everything you could to stay awake. Cool. Good sees and honors that.
Honestly, this blog post in itself is an attempt at me trying. I couldn't tell you how many times I've decided that "THIS TIME I'll start to be more consistent on my blog." It only takes a quick look at my archives to see how that has gone…
I'm very grateful that God is so incredibly patient, kind and merciful and that He cares a lot more about our attempts to be faithful than He cares about the outcomes. Is there any area of your life that you feel you have kept off-limits to God? Why do you think that is? What would it look like for you to respond in faithfulness? As always, feel free to share. If it's too personal for you to share here, don't hesitate send me a private message via the Connect Page or on my Instagram.
1 Thess. 2:2
"...but with the help of our God we dared to tell His gospel in the face of strong opposition."