The Dailyness of Discipline

The last two weeks had been going so well. Not in the stuff-of-life sense—life was filled with unexpected bills, computer issues and such—but in the listening-to-God sense.

And then it wasn’t.

In my book, Finding Balance in the Circus of Life, I talk about the need to sit quietly before God as our master and ask him to help us plan our days:

If we’re ever going to hear God, to learn from him, we, too, need to sit with him in a quiet place away from the clamor of the world. … Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” I once heard this verse loosely translated as “Shut up and let God talk.” That resonates with me.
So much of my prayer life is about talking to God, telling him what I need and how I feel. This idea of sitting quietly with God, listening, is so hard for me. I am a bit ADD. I fidget. My mind flies off in a thousand directions. There are suddenly chores I need to do this instant.
How do we get to the place where we can sit and wait quietly for God to speak? …
See, it used to be if I did pray about my workload, it was to bring my to-do list before God. I would present it to him almost as if he were upper-level management and I was asking him to bring his big rubber stamp that says “Approved” down on it. I wanted him to sign off on my agenda for the day. The problem with that is it still made it my agenda. …
I am struggling to learn to sit before God as an obedient servant, awaiting his orders. I ask him to write my to-do list.
I read through my list first, and then the sticky note becomes my blank canvas for God. I try to focus my thoughts on him and not the tasks I believe await my day. To do that I often sing a praise song that focuses on the name of Jesus, or simply whisper his name over and over until I feel my mind stop racing. And then I listen for the whisper of God.
When I do, God often gives me things to do that aren’t even on my list. You might think that would stress me out, but instead they are usually things that give my life meaning. I find his instructions usually incorporate my spiritual gifts. They are things that would never make my to-do list because they aren’t urgent.

Yeah, that’s the process I try to live to structure my days so they align with God’s desires.

Until I don’t.

Easter Sunday, with rising extra-early for a sunrise service, followed by a church breakfast and the morning worship, meant no time to sit quietly with God for his direction for my day. But that stretched into a rushed Monday morning and then Tuesday. Yes, I took time to read my Bible those days, but I “didn’t have the time” to sit quietly and wait for God to tell me his plans for my day. There were tasks to be done, meetings to make, fun to have.

By Tuesday evening I was frantic. My schedule seemed out of control. Things that had to be done were looming larger than they should. I didn’t know how I could possibly keep all the balls in the air.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

And so this morning I regrouped. I sat quietly and listened to God. I wrote down the list of things I felt he was telling me to do. It even included the word: Breathe.

The list seemed long. It’s now complete and the day has not felt out of control or overly rushed. I’ve breathed. It included people time and prayer time and writing time and fun time. Life feels more manageable.

And yet I know …

Another day will come, not long hence, when I just feel too busy to take the time to sit, or when I already have to get up so early I cannot drag myself out of bed any earlier to listen quietly. And the rat race will begin again.

I’m a slow learner. I often tease that the reason Finding Balance in the Circus of Life is my most popular speaking topic is because God knows I need to hear it so often. I need to be reminded to learn from him as the master tightrope walker, to take the time to sit in silence before him.

Because discipline is just so daily. I have to choose it every day. And again the next.

So do you.

Today, I read this verse in my devotional reading:

“I have set the LORD continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
(‭‭Psalms‬ ‭16:8‬ ‭NASB‬‬)

That’s what I need to choose. To continually set the Lord before me. His ways. His plans. His guidance.

And do it again the next day.

That leads to an unshaken life. And I could use a little bit more of that. How about you?

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