New Years Day is quickly becoming one of the most formative days in my spiritual life. It’s a day of new beginnings. It’s a day of starting over. Although it is in the dead of winter, it brings about this feeling of newness, anything could happen, it’s a new year! I know nothing magical happens at 11:59 pm December 31, wiping all our slates clean. But just something about changing that calendar. It’s good for the soul. I have no idea in what year our Lord will return, but each January, I can’t help but think we are another year closer. It’s like my father-in-law used to say to his kids when asked a thousand times on car trips “Are we there yet?”, his answer was always the same, “We’re closer than we have been.” It feels good to know we are closer than we have been.
In my last post, I shared one of my New Year’s traditions of choosing a word for the year, and reflecting on the year past. Another has sprung up in my life over the past few years. It has come on somewhat gradually, but I’m embracing it for all that it could be for me in Christ. The new “tradition” is that of choosing a spiritual discipline focus for the year. It started a few years ago when I really wanted to read through the Bible in a year. I’d tried many many many times before, but always failed. I was determined this year, I believe it was 2013. (Ok, so that was just last year.) My church was corporately trying to do this, so it gave me the extra push I needed and accountability. I also found a reading plan on my Bible app for my smart phone. It let me check off each chapter as I read it. And we all know how good it feels to check something off a list!! I did it! That year I read through the Bible in a year. It was great. But with my limited time for reading, I spent all my reading time just getting my checklist completed. If something struck me as good, I didn’t really allow myself to dive in. I ended the year really wanting to dive deeper into a smaller portion of scripture.
Enter 2014’s discipline: scripture memory! Which, let me tell you, I didn’t really work on until, umm, December 2014! Eek! But I did dive into a smaller portion of scripture. Namely Hebrews 12. Seriously, I think I read that portion of scripture at least 300 times this year (I’m sure I missed a few days this year!). So, naturally, when December hit and I realized I hadn’t memorized any scripture, I knew exactly which passage to go for. I had also gotten some advice and inspiration from my women’s Bible study I go to on Thursday mornings.
It was the last week, we were having a brunch and a few of the ladies were talking about scripture memory. One lady who inspires me often, had already shared her strategy to memorize: you say the verse with the Bible open 10 times out loud, then you close the Bible and you say it 10 more times. Each day you add a new verse, but repeat all of the scripture in the same way. Simple enough. Some of the women were talking about how they couldn’t memorize anything anymore. Age, etc. I feel the same way. I often can’t remember if I’ve brushed my teeth. But I sure enough have Goodnight Moon memorized!! Why? Because I’ve said it out loud 10,000 times! It was then that it hit me, maybe my friend Tracy knew what she was talking about! Then the nail was put in the coffin by Kathy, who just said simply “It just takes work.”
So, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve worked, I’ve sounded like a madwoman mumbling the same thing over and over before bed. My husband laughs at me. But it’s worked! I have in a pretty short time memorized Hebrews 12:1-11. If you see me you can test me!
In 2015 I will be putting my energies into prayer. I feel like this is the word He has given me for the year, so it makes sense to focus on it as a discipline as well.
This whole taking a discipline a year thing has been really good for me. In the past when confronted with the notion of spiritual disciplines, I have been overwhelmed by the thought of getting enough bible reading, scripture memorization, prayer, corporate worship, meditation, solitude….all in one day! Sheesh!
But being able to really focus on one a year, not to the complete neglect of the others, but really focusing. It has helped me tremendously towards a more healthy approach towards my own spiritual formation. There are seasons. For right now, solitude is not a discipline I can focus on! Neither is corporate worship for that matter. If a baby is sick, no church for mama. But prayer, that is one I need so desperately. And it keeps my heart in tune with God. And it keeps me intentional about my spiritual life. That’s the point of the disciplines anyways right!
Consider choosing one for 2015. Drop me a comment and let me know what you choose. Let’s encourage one another in 2015.