We’ve been talking about the Reluctant Obedient, and there is a practice that he knows that he must become proficient at: spiritual disciplines. Those little practices like time in the Bible, serving, praying, and worshiping that put a person in a place to be transformed by God. Some of them are easier than others. All of them have incredible benefits, and a few of them are an outright joy. But here’s the cold, hard truth about spiritual disciplines:
It’s all fine and dandy until it rains.
Think about it. Running, exercise: fine and dandy. Until it’s 31 degrees and raining sideways. Studying for a test in a subject you love, like math. Until they start using words in the equations instead of numbers. Painting landscapes. Until it rains.
Obeying Jesus: Learning to obey Him is fine and dandy and comes with some great benefits at the start. Giving money away and seeing how it advances the Kingdom. No more gossiping and seeing it change your spirit. No sex before marriage and watching it improve your dating relationships. Spending more time with Him through Scripture study and prayer and watching your stress level decrease.
Then it rains.
An unexpected crisis at work. A call from the principal’s office. A financially devastating bill. A downward turn in the health of a loved one. Loss of a job. Loss of a marriage.
And when it rains, it pours.
Our enemy loves these opportunities. “Where’s God now?” “Why is He silent?” “If there really was a God, and if he really loved you, this wouldn’t be happening.”
Time for my soul to hit a return volley to that noise…
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
The tricky thing about hills is that they look closer than what they really are. But they also look smaller than what they really are.
God’s help will never be early. He’ll be on time. His time. Not our time. That hill from where my help comes from looks closer than what it really is…but I still trust Him.
When God’s help arrives, it is always more than what we need. It’s gracious. It’s overwhelming. It’s bigger than what it first appears.
The Reluctant Obedient learns the discipline of keeping his/her eyes up toward those hills. It’s not glamorous work. It’s not the kind of stuff that gets written in greeting cards or bumper stickers. It’s seldom public. It’s the grit of faith.
It’s developed over time and with constant begging for it to our Father.