I continue to take a look at the habits in my life. The thing about bad habits is how they can sometimes form with such little effort and feel so difficult to break. Yet, the ones most beneficial to us take considerable energy to develop and we break with ease.
I listened to a sermon series by Craig Groeschel titled Habits. He shared that by Valentine’s Day, 92% of people have quit their New Year’s goals and resolutions.
I wrote a post in case you missed it titled 6 steps to fail proof goals and habits.
Apparently, I live and write in themes. You know that about me by now I think.
A Slip of Habit
Over the last several months I’ve felt my morning quiet times becoming stale.
“Staleness is an indication of something out of joint with God.”
Oswald Chamber, My Utmost For His Highest
I’ve not heard God with the same clarity. I’ve approached my time with Him like any other ordinary task, something to be checked off a long to-do list.
As I listened to this full series, I began to think about my morning habits. In the past nothing came before the Lord and my time with Him. But now, I reach for my phone to see what time it is. I brush my teeth and scan my phone to see what I missed while I slept. I walk to to the coffee pot, I scan Instagram. Are there notifications or messages I missed in the night?
I pour my coffee, grab my Bible, pick up my phone and respond to messages, scroll for a minute, decide what I need to post, think about my day. Then I see the time. Where did all that time go? My quiet time is nearing an end without me giving my fullness to listening to God. So, I quickly open my Bible, pray, read, journal, and basically squeeze God into the tiny space left over after checking in with the world first.
It’s a habit I’ve created unintentionally.
The exact opposite of how I’ve always treated and protected this time and space.
“Guard jealously your relationship to God.”
Oswald Chamber, My Utmost For His Highest
I’ve been placing the world before the Word.
It starts with a decision
I knew what needed to be done.
I made a decision that God would receive my all in time. God would get the very first of my time, energy, and focus. He will receive my first and best.
When we make a decision to step back on the right path, it won’t come easy. The enemy is there distracting. So we fight.
The morning following my decision to break this habit, my eyes opened and I saw His Word first thing on my pillowcase. It was the reminder I needed about the decision I made.
Word before world.
I read the verse on my pillow and repeated over and over again, “Word before world.” I prayed before stepping out of my bed. “Lord give me strength to give you my first fruit time and energy and focus today. Set my feet on your path. I surrender.”
Surrendering the old
Before I can create a new habit, I must surrender the old. I open my hands and raise them to Him.
Surrender. The word God gave me for 2019. The word I didn’t seek or ask for. In His mercy He delivered anyway.
The world brings distraction and chaos and worry. His Word brings peace, love, and comfort.
What have I been doing to my soul?
With each step of my morning quiet time, I realized how firmly rooted this bad habit had grown. I had to force my mind back to Him. My hand wanted to reach for my phone so I put it in another room so I couldn’t cheat and pick it back up.
It wasn’t easy, which showed me this is a fight worth waging. I already knew that though.
Do you know what happened that morning? I received a fresh word from God. I received clarity on some worries I’ve been holding. My mind felt more stable and calm.
My King never left. He was there speaking all along. I’d just filled my eyes and ears with sounds and images that shut Him out.
The enemy steals in the stealthiest ways. Therefore, we guard. We protect. We choose. We aren’t victims of our habits. We own our choices. It’s not easy, but in His strength we can break the habits needing breaking and create the habits waiting to move in their place.
I once heard a sermon about the idols in our lives. He said when we discover an idol and decide to remove it, we must replace it with something good. Otherwise, that empty spot will find something eventually. Well, he said it better than that, but you get the picture.
We have the power to choose.
Here’s the steps I’m taking.
- Place my phone in the bathroom at night rather than my nightstand.
- I use my watch to tell me the time (what an antiquated idea. Ha!)
- I look at my pillow and remember to pray and start in the Word.
- I pray before getting out of bed to set my mind and heart on Him.
- I preset the coffee pot the night before.
- I have all my Bible study materials ready in my spot before going to bed.
- When my quiet time is up, I check my phone. But I have to walk to another room to get it.
Just little tweaks and changes to help me stay the course.
Maybe you are like me and need visual reminders to fix your gaze on Jesus first thing in the morning.
Maybe you’d like to break your habit of checking in with the world with the first of your day via Facebook, Instagram, the news, email, whatever the source may be.
Maybe you are like me and you are tired of starting your day from a place of anxiety, worry, and fear and you are ready to claim the peace He promises if we seek Him first.
If you could use help in this area, I have one small tool that is helping me. Scripture pillowcases.
It’s the trigger I need to force my mind back to the decision I’ve made to start in the Word. I see His Word with the first and last of my day now. I pray that verse as I literally rest on His Word. Then I get up renewed by His strength, ready to stay focused on creating new, better habits.
You can see the full collection on my shop page right here. Do you want a custom verse? I do that too.
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Let’s keep marching towards our most intentional year ever!!