March 28, 2023
Nothing Changes, If Nothing Changes
March 22, 2022 | Jessica Benko
When God puts something on your heart, what do you do?
Immediately jump in? Thoughtfully consider before moving forward? Drag your feet, knowing that “something” will require sacrifice, time, and hard work? Or maybe, you simply choose not to listen because it’s too far outside your comfort zone.
Whatever your response might be, it’s important to remember that God will not force us to move forward. After all, He has gifted us free will: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9, NIV).
Which means He can nudge and encourage and open doors for you. He can be patient and graceful and persistent with you. He can put others in your life to help guide you. But ultimately, it’s up to us to follow Him, to answer when He calls.
So what’s holding you back?
Perhaps you’re waiting for a proverbial sign, or that “perfect” time, to get started. Just finding time to listen for God can be a challenge. Trust me, I get this! But even if you …
… want to listen for Him
… want to be obedient
… want to act on what He’s calling you to do
… “Want” isn’t always enough. After all, desire and action are not synonyms. This is a lesson I’ve been learning recently.
More times than I can count, God has called me to read the Bible in its entirety. Each time, I’ve tried and failed — in spite of wanting to do it. I never knew how to get started; I’d fall asleep trying to squeeze it into the end of my day, or I’d “take a break” after a particularly long list of names I couldn’t pronounce — promising to get back to it later. I never did. My tactics didn’t work.
Within the last year, that same nudge from God grew louder. I hear our pastors talk about their “Bible time” nearly every week. I read books that speak to the importance of reading your Bible regularly (the irony of this is not lost on me!). My daily devotionals are often completed in my Bible app. We’ve begun buying our kids their own Bibles, and reading from them, because of their growing curiosity and faith.
Even amidst these not-so-subtle signs to get started, I resisted. After all, when could I possibly make time for such an undertaking? And, why would this time be any different from my past (failed) experiences?
After further prayer and seeking God’s grace and wisdom, I looked at this opportunity in a new light. During past attempts, I simply tried adding my reading as an item at the end of my to-do list. I did not change my routine in order to make time for the new endeavor. Nothing changed, so nothing changed.
This time around, I took a more pragmatic approach by:
- Finding a two-year Bible reading plan to follow (We chose a chronological option by Alisha Illian);
- Utilizing the “Through the Word” app to understand contexts and details within each chapter that might otherwise be missed;
- Purchasing a journal to take notes;
- Inviting two close girl friends to join me — we hold each other accountable;
- Making my daily reading — two chapters a day — a priority.
And guess what? Something finally changed!
Our journey started on January 1st, and it has been amazing! I don’t think I can overstate just how incredible it’s been. Not only am I finally obeying what God has been calling me to do for a long time, I’m learning so much more about Him. I find myself in awe most days, and we’re only three books in! What’s more, is that my kids are seeing me faithfully reading my Bible.
Am I sometimes behind, because life happens? Yes! In fact, I’m two days behind as we speak. But that’s not the point.
My point is that whatever your “something” is — reading your Bible, removing idols, using kinder words, volunteering, changing social media habits, making quality time for family, tithing — I can relate. Change, or action of any kind, can be overwhelming and scary and hard at first. But 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
I also love the picture Psalm 119:105 provides us: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
God has empowered us and loves us. He has lit our path. We must choose to follow it.