Have you ever noticed that your life is run almost entirely by habits? They can be good habits. Bad habits. Inconsequential habits. Habits that you began intentionally. Habits that just sorta happened over time. We all have all kinds of habits… And the majority of what we do every day is done out of habit!
I noticed this the other day when I was driving to Red Deer. As I was driving along, I realized that I wasn’t thinking about driving at all, but there I was – driving 110 km an hour down the QE2. There were cars in front of me, cars beside me, cars behind me – but my mind wasn’t thinking about any of that stuff. There was not a single conscious thought that went into my driving, but yet, my hands automatically turned the steering wheel so that my vehicle stayed within the white lines at all time. My foot automatically adjusted ever-so-slightly as necessary to make sure that I stayed at an appropriate speed. Everything was done automatically. The motions of driving had become a habit.
Of course, it wasn’t always that way. I can remember when I first started to learn to drive, I had to be completely focused and very deliberate in my driving. I had to consciously think – slow down, speed up, don’t forget to signal, watch out for that other guy…. Everything had to be done very intentionally – and it was very easy to forget to do certain things like signalling or shoulder checking. But the more I did it, the more automatic driving became. It became a habit. Today, I no longer think about putting on my seatbelt or signalling when I turn or even shoulder checking – that’s all automatic. It’s a habit now.
And most of what we do in life, we’ve done so often that its now just a habit. Getting dressed in the morning, brushing our teeth, tying our shoes, riding our bike, driving our car, reading a book – these are all things that – at one time we struggled with. It was a lot of work to learn to tie your shoe or ride a bike. It took focus and determination – but now you don’t even think about it. Those things have just become everyday habits.
And you’ve probably had a similar experience when it comes to spiritual disciplines. Over the past three months, we’ve being talking about spiritual disciplines or the Healthy Habits of Christians who want to grow deeper in their relationship with God.
And like all habits, it’s a process to develop these spiritual disciplines to the point where they just become automatic – where they’re just a natural part of your life.
And I don’t know where you are in the process of developing these habits. Maybe for some of you, these are all brand new things. Maybe you’ve never fasted before. Maybe reading your Bible on a daily basis is just not something you’ve ever done. And maybe you’re trying to get into the habit, but it’s a struggle. It’s not easy. We’ll let me encourage you to stick with it. Some of these habits are tough to develop, but they are sooo worth it!
I mean, can you imagine if you never developed the habit of tying your own shoes? Or feeding yourself? As a toddler, it can be frustration to try to work that fork and spoon – to try to stab those little peas or successfully get that spoonful of jello to your mouth. Honestly, it would sure be a lot easier to just let mom or dad feed you!
But aren’t you glad today that you learned to feed yourself? It would be pretty awkward for me as a 37 year old to depend on my mom to feed me every time I got hungry.
Well, the same thing is true spiritually speaking. These habits that we’ve been talking about – prayer, reading our Bibles, fasting, worship – these are all things that maturing Christians do in order to “grow up” so to speak.