Throughout my early teenage years to about a year ago, I've been attempting to incorporate a daily devotion into my schedule. During high school this barely ever actually happened, and my freshman year of college wasn't much better. Not surprisingly, my spiritual growth sputtered. I was entirely self-sufficient (at least I thought I was) and consoled myself with the thought that God's grace would cover everything, so I could always repent later and He and I would be okay. While I firmly believe in God's grace, continuing to live life as if nothing had changed is the exact opposite of the reason Jesus came to save us in the first place. For an exposition on the topic of grace, and why I believe what I believe about grace, click here (Greg Mathis/ Student Led Renewal).
I can't pinpoint the exact moment that I chose to make a change, but at that moment I knew that I wasn't living the way I was supposed to. I wasn't committing what most people would consider great and evil sins, but the more subtle and deceptive variety. The first thing I did was rededicate my life to the Lord and asked that through His strength I would live a life transformed. That I would not try to use my own strength or wisdom, but rely on His and His alone. Once I made this decision, the next thing I did was to incorporate a daily devotion consisting of three elements:
- A daily entry from a devotional book
- Reading at least one chapter from the Bible
- Do all of this first thing in the morning. Before food, breakfast, shower-anything.
The devotion book I read is called Unto the Hills by Billy Graham. It takes no more than five minutes to read and has wonderful examples of applying Scripture to daily life. For the most part, it is application rather than doctrinal theory, which I appreciate since I am no Biblical scholar.
For my Bible reading, I began in Psalms and I am still working through that book. As of this writing, I am on Psalm 114. Many times, there is a specific verse that I will incorporate into my prayer, such as, "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust'" (Psalm 91). Once I finish Psalms, I plan to move onto Proverbs, due to the great wisdom in that book, wisdom I know I will need.
I can say with complete confidence that the daily quiet time I've been having for a year now has impacted my life. No matter how bad my day is, I am reassured that God is still in control, and that He loves me dearly. This isn't to say life has been perfect. Far from it. Storms have come and gone, even now I am weathering one with the knowledge that Christ is allowing me to walk through this and will be for my benefit in the end. For the daily struggles, the ones that come minute-to-minute, and can well up from just a glance, I have taken to offering them up to God. I'm doing my best to take the term, "Pray without ceasing" as literally as possible. When the temptation inevitably comes, I offer my sinful thoughts up to Him and ask for the strength to resist so that I might glorify God with every aspect of my life.
Again, my life is far from perfect, but I know that I have grown spiritually, and that my relationship with my Savior will only become sweeter and more intimate the more I devote my time and effort to it.
I would greatly appreciate any thoughts, insights, and guidance from those who see this. Especially from adults who have, "been there, done that" spiritually.
Here's to growth!