New Year’s resolutions provide a sense of urgency and determination. All across the globe people commit themselves to losing weight, exercising, getting organized, writing books, completing degrees, or simply cleaning out their closets. To a large degree their success is determined by their degree of desperation. Difficulties arise when long-term goals are thwarted by short-term pleasures or disappointments. Additionally, many goals that are worth the wait require that we invest, work, and wait for the long-term results. Waiting is difficult. Waiting at a red-light for five minutes or at an airport for five hours is not fun. Waiting five months to lose weight while working one’s tail off (literally) is not full of fun moments, but it is worth it in the end. Everyone is watching football right now. Winning championships is fun, but those early morning work-outs, I’m sure, were not loads and loads of fun. Studying for years to become a teacher, a scientist, or a doctor is not full of fun; it’s full of hard work and sacrifice. The people who embark on the journey of achieving long-term goals will experience the success of their sacrifices – if they commit themselves to consistency, if they are not thwarted by short-term pleasures, and if they are patient.
The new year has begun; many people will commit to getting into the Word of God more. Some people open their Bibles and start reading Genesis after a long day when they can barely keep their eyes open. Others will commit to reading their Bible for five minutes every morning. Over the years, I’ve done the same thing. I’ve tried to read it at night when I’m so exhausted that even if I was reading winning lottery numbers, I’d fall asleep. I learned that I need to get up early if I want to be able to read anything, much less retain what I’ve read. Even still, however, if I simply open my Bible to Genesis or Exodus or “whatever” and just start reading without a purpose, I won’t get as much out of it as I would have had I gone to my Bible with a passion and a purpose. As a result, I now ask God to speak to me, and I pray before I even open my Bible. And when I do open my Bible, I go to my concordance and look for the topic that is most prominent on my heart. Then, I look up the reference, and read it. Many times, this causes me to go to the beginning of that particular book. Then, I read the historical context and find the overall themes of that particular book. This way, when I re-visit my original reference, I understand more fully what it is saying. Sometimes this takes several days, or a week or two. Sometimes, I sit there for two hours and read. It all depends on what I have going on that day. I do know, however, that my day starts with the Word, and I wait for the answer. Sometimes the answer comes right away, sometimes it comes in five days, or it unfolds over a five-week or five-month time frame. Sometimes I feel frustrated, but I continue on in the Word because I know He will provide an answer. I become desperate to hear from Him. It is the desperation that lulls me back to His Word the next day, and the next, and the next which formulates a discipline within that is not of me. Rather, it is rooted in Christ within me. God all around me, and Christ within me becomes as if a magnetic force of which I am caught betwixt and between. The more I seek His Word, the more I become aware of the power that exists around and within me: it is the power of His Word to transform me, and I am addicted to the rush of love and acceptance I receive when I am there.
This year I am approaching my Bible with desperate discipline. Have you ever been desperate? Someone you know or knew was diagnosed with cancer, or you were diagnosed with cancer, you lost a job, endured a flood, a fire, an earthquake? Maybe you had your heart broken and wondered how you would ever breath full, un-painful breaths again. Maybe you’ve had a dream and you’ve desperately been waiting for it to come true. God impressed upon me that discipline requires one to be desperate. How desperate are you for your long-term goals to become reality? If you are really desperate, you will have the discipline required to bring that dream to a reality.
Approaching the Word of God with desperate discipline means that you want and need and believe that you will hear from God - all in one breath. Your want is equal to your need, and your need is equal to your belief; they are all synonymous. Did you know that in this life, whatever you are looking for, you will find? If you are looking for smiles in a crowd, you will find them. If you are looking for frowns in a crowd, you will find them. I know this because we find the things we are looking for. When we expect things, they happen. If you expect your day to be bad, it will be bad. If you expect your day to be good, it will be good. It all boils down to our perceptions. If you approach the Word of God, with the need, desire and expectancy to hear from His heart, you will. It will take time, however. God is not limited in His ability to speak, but we are limited in our understanding and in our ability to hear from Him. If we haven’t trained our hearts and souls to patiently listen to His voice, He may speak, but we won’t recognize the message. As we commit ourselves to consistently read His Word, He gracefully unfolds His Word to us. He shows us and teaches us things that we can understand. As our understanding deepens, so too do the lessons. The more we read the Word, the more perceptive and receptive we become to the Truths within it. Just as any relationship takes time to develop intimacy, so too does the Word of God require us to commit ourselves – through desperate discipline – to attaining and discerning the wisdom that unwraps amid the pages and within our hearts.
I pray that your desperation to hear from God, in good times and in bad times, will lay a foundation of faith and a discipline within you that cannot be thwarted by short-term, fleeting pleasures or disappointments of this world. May this new year bring with it a new-found passion and purpose: to become desperately disciplined in seeking Him through His Word.
“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith
As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
The Warrior Mom Ministry was founded by Kristina Seymour, author of The Warrior Mom Handbook – Equipping Women through the Word, a Bible study for moms who desire to live by faith in the midst of their everyday lives. Kristina has learned that moms can't survive on caffeine and animal crackers alone; women in the Word and in community are united and able to stand firm. To learn more about The Warrior Mom Handbook, the Warrior Mom Ministry, and to sign up for daily encouragement, visit, www.warriormoms.net.
Originally published Tuesday, 01 April 2014.