The Discipline of Study
If you haven’t read my previous blog posts about my journey in discipline this year, I would recommend starting by reading my introductory blog here, as well as my other update blogs which you can find listed here.
The Question I Keep Asking
This month has been, if I’m being honest, my worst month yet with this discipline challenge. To be completely transparent, I did not practice the discipline of study one bit, nor did I even read the chapter in Celebration of Discipline that talked about it. It’s the first month that I felt like I had no vision for this challenge, and the excitement of a new adventure has worn off. If I hadn’t committed to sharing this journey with you all through this blog, I would have given up like I have so many times before.
And as I’ve been thinking the last couple of days about how I’m so disappointed in myself for failing again at being disciplined, a question has continually come to mind: what do you do when you hit a wall?
Truthfully, I don’t really know the answer. I wish I did – that would’ve made this past month so much more successful. But I don’t. The good news, however, is that God does, and I believe that he’s happy to help me through this if I let him.
Breaking Old Habits
If I let him. That’s the most important thing for me in this moment. My tendency for really any time I fail at anything is to start by being angry with myself and thinking negative thoughts towards myself. Let me tell you that is not a good place to start. The next thing I would typically do is pull myself up by my bootstraps and push myself out of my own strength to “do better” and “be better”, only to tire out quickly and fail once again, starting this whole process over again.
This is something that I really had never noticed in myself before recently, but looking back I see this pattern rear its ugly head over and over again. But this year, in his grace, God has been so good and faithful to show me that there’s a better way.
Instead of going back to myself for strength and never finding enough, I feel he is calling me and everybody else who struggles with this to start from that place of weakness. Those moments that I’ve sat down and really recognized my weakness and inability to accomplish anything good apart from Jesus have been the moments where I’ve felt the most full, alive, joyful, and strong in a strange way. It’s not an overconfident strength that comes from me. It’s an everlasting strength that will never fade in any circumstance.
Oddly enough, today’s devotional is on this exact topic. I had absolutely no idea about that when I was thinking about what I’d share in this blog, but it’s funny how God lines these things up sometimes. In today’s devotional (His Grace is Sufficient), Craig writes:
“One of our greatest gifts is weakness because in acknowledging our weakness we make space for God to move and work. Those who are satisfied with worldly success, pleasure and possession make little room for the incredible wealth of love, peace, passion and joy God longs to give those who simply acknowledge their need of him.”
I want true transformation, and true transformation takes time. I don’t want to go through my life, pretending like I’ve got it all together and like I do everything perfectly, because then nothing would ever change. I’d look good on the outside most likely, but at the end of the day I would be no more like Jesus then how I started. And that’s the ultimate goal: to know and be known by Jesus, and then from that place be his hands and feet to our world.
So I guess my practical takeaway for this month isn’t to pray more or add in more structure that will help me do better, which actually is what I was thinking before I started processing what God was speaking to me in the past few days. Instead it’s just to be my weak self, and be alright and even thankful for my weakness, then lean into God and trust that he will be my strength. Paul said it best in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
The beauty of this journey is that the beginning of every month can be a fresh start. So May 1 will be exactly that for me. On a practical note, I do still want to take some time to practice the discipline of study, so this next month will be a combination of study, and our next discipline which is the discipline of simplicity. I am very much looking forward to learning about and practicing simplicity, and to sharing the continuation of my journey with you.
Thank you again for taking the time to read this. I hope, even though it may not have been what any of us expected or necessarily hoped for, that this has been an encouraging series for you. Whether you’ve been participating in this challenge yourself or not, I’d love to hear how you’ve practiced the discipline of study in the comment section below or on our Facebook group, which can be found here. Have a wonderful May!
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