So, my last blog entry was about chapters five and six in The Pursuit of Holiness and I talked about the little foxes that get into the vineyard and ruin it. I ended the blog post talking about our failure to notice or take seriously the little foxes in by brother-in-law’s vineyard. But I can’t let you think I don’t have foxes in my own vineyard. In fact, the reason I ended the post where I did last Monday was because I had to leave for Circle. Going to Circle last week was a small battle with a small fox.
Somewhere recently (Fresh Faith by Cymbala perhaps) I read a comment where the author was talking about someone who was ready to stop a particular form of service in the church. He said that was fine, we do not need to burn out and it is a good idea to be aware when it is time to back away from something to let others do it. But the danger, he said, was when we do not move into another service or good use of our time and we wander away. Now, that isn’t to say we have to be busy all the time and can’t have any time to ourselves. I truly believe there are things we should trim out of our hectic lives and I do evaluate at times to see if I am doing something I should let go.
But I also know that I have an unhealthy tendency to create a small hole for myself and lock myself away from others. This becomes a self-centered thing, and I am usually either wasting my time or engaging in morbid introspection. I need down time, quiet time. But I don’t need inordinate amounts of that down time because I get unhealthy. So, I also evaluate what I am doing to make sure I am reaching out, participating in certain activities, serving in certain ways so keep me connected and convicted.
Church activities can become my little fox. I may want to stay home one night from Circle/Bible Study, or family night, or some get together. It sounds innocent enough, I deserve some time and some weeks just get booked solid. But I know myself and I know why I go to these events. First reason is the time spent studying the Word and discussing the truths that I need to remember over and over again. Second reason is to be a part of the lives of the women and families at these activities. That requires quality time and that usually occurs during a Bible study or a get-together, or cleaning dishes at Family night.
Last Monday I wanted to stay home to read a novel. I had not had what seemed like good reading time all month (although I had managed to read a fair amount) and I just wanted a block of time with no other commitments. But I want to be at Circle, I want to spend time talking with these women. And I am so glad I went. We had some very good conversation, even though only four of us were there. Perhaps because only four of us were there. We discussed some fears and frustrations and family concerns and we also discussed the faithfulness of our God.
And why have I not had “good” reading time this month? Because I have had wonderful time with friends and family. Every choice is a sacrifice and I know why I am choosing to spend time with family and friends. These are people I love and people I want to be with. Sometimes it’s my time to support and provide encouragement, and sometimes it’s my turn to receive the support and encouragement. And there was a lot of both this month. How can I complain about that?
Another little fox is my regular Bible reading time. I do not believe that a consistent devotion time and Bible reading time or even Bible study time makes someone a good Christian. But I do believe it is hard to be a good Christian without that time in the Word. But it’s easy to get busy, stay up too late and have trouble getting up a few minutes early to fit in the reading before the day gets started. Then the schedule doesn’t slow down enough to fit it in later. Although I do manage to keep up with my email, Facebook, twitter, and blogs I follow. Ahhh, I know better. So each day is a fresh start and some days I do better than others. But the times when I make myself aware of the need to make that time are the times when I succeed.
I was listening to the sermon Sunday and it struck me that what is most amazing about the gospel and yet difficult to believe is that we are being told to be holy and we are also given the ability to do just that. Sometimes my sin seems so relentless and the improvements seem so absent that it is discouraging. Pastor David was preaching from Galatians 3:1-15 where Paul is pointing out that no one can live a righteous life under their own power. Every one of us requires the indwelling Spirit. This is exactly what Bridges is teaching, of course. Paul is saying that we can do this. Not all at once, and not perfectly this side of Heaven, but we can know success in this battle against sin. That is something worth pursuing!