12 April 2011

The 40 Days 40 Minutes Challenge

Every story begins somewhere. The prelude, the happening and the debriefing all have their genesis. I have been getting ready to write this for years but last night at about 2am I woke up knowing that today would be the day. Initially I thought I woke up because I was in physical pain, so I took inventory as soon as I was aware of my various body parts. Yup, parts of me were painful. I hobbled to the bathroom to take some meds and hobbled back into bed.

Soon it was 3am. I was still awake and still unable to get comfortable. I got up again and went back to the bathroom for the next round of medications, surprised that the first round hadn't knocked me out. I have a very low tolerance for drugs and normally drool on myself after taking prescription strength ibuprofen. I dislike starting my day on drugs so I try not to take anything unless absolutely necessary during the wee hours of the morning. By the time it was 4:30am I was willing to take the remaining regimen of chemicals available to me and did. Oddly, I was still coherent, or at least I felt like I was still coherent. Ever talk to a drunk? They are under the misguided belief that they are OK-fine too.

As I tried to evaluate my cognitive abilities and decide if I should just get up and start my day or try to get a little bit of sleep... I had one of my more honest moments and said, "You know what, Lord? If I start praying I will fall asleep in no time. What is it about me that I can't pray for 40 seconds without taking 40 winks?" That thought led to, "And what's so special about the number 40 to You?" I went through the list of events that happened over 40 days or 40 years and wondered if I should go through my concordance and count how many times "forty" is listed. I laughed at myself because I know I lack the discipline it takes to actually do that. That's when I remembered something my friend Carla Rolfe had said to me when I asked her to help me with something and had lamented to her that I lack discipline. She said she could help me everything but the discipline part, discipline being something you have to do on your own. That's some of the most profound wisdom ever given to me. The more I thought about it, the more profound it seemed.

Suddenly I had this stupid thought in my head that for the next 40 days my primary focus is going to be on the dreaded big D, Discipline. I call it a stupid thought not because it is unwise but because that's what you call things you don't like when you're an immature spoiled brat like me. I found the very idea annoying and I was pretty certain that if I could just fall asleep for a bit I would have some sleep induced amnesia. No such luck. When I got up this morning I was singing the "I can't hear you, I'm not even listening" song. That generally works for me when the pressure is coming from without, but the Holy Spirit lives within. His voice is one voice I do not want to shut out as the consequences for my soul would be too dire. Perhaps some coffee and the morning news would sufficiently divert my attention? The caffeine gave clarity to the idea. Drat!

I am beginning to see that this isn't my normal semi-annual 60 second attempt to find discipline. As a matter of fact, I usually feel good about my semi-annual 60 second attempts to do the right thing. It assuages my guilt. It's my dose of antibiotic to reduce the infection in my guilt glands. I don't feel good about this at all. I feel like it's going to hurt a bit. God's not letting up on me. To drive home His point I found myself writing a confession to a young woman I used to mentor. She contacted me telling me she was guiding a young woman through one of the books she and I did together and commented that the world was still an attraction to her new friend. I found myself writing this: Heck, sometimes I love my life so much I forget that it doesn't belong to me, or complain about my circumstances so much I forget that they were designed for me. The pull of finite earthly treasures and our flesh is strong. Like trying to defy gravity while wearing lead! No match for God of course but the pull feels like it!

While I was writing that I was thinking that the lack of discipline makes the pull of the flesh seem stronger than it really is. It weights our soul down. I hate it when I say or write something that convicts me. Obviously God is not going to let me off the hook and so, for the next 40 days I am going to be writing about my quest for discipline. I intend to be brutally honest about my resistance to it and whatever happens along the way. Being disciplined is akin to making me do math. I despise math.

I want to be clear about what I will and will not be doing. I am not going to try to fix every area of my life that is tarnished by my lack of discipline, not in the next 40 days at least. The list of trouble I have because of being undisciplined is far too long. Also, I am not on a quest to become Religious Rosemarie. This is not an attempt to be legalistic about "devotions." This is about the need I have to build some personal spiritual discipline that is congruent with and accurately reflects my profession of faith. I am giving 40 minutes of my day, deliberately and with particular focus to worshiping my God. I don't think that this is some sort of magic formula for success as a Christian. I would venture to say I spend at least triple that much time or more now reading Christian books, or listening to online sermons or reading Christian blogs. That's not the sort of thing I am talking about. I am talking about 40 minutes of full attention paid to Almighty God. No computer, no iPod, no television, no Christian book or Jesus junk. His Word, the Holy Spirit and me-nothing and no one else allowed. (Though I will share what happens afterward.)

I would love to hear from other Christian women who find they have the same problem with being disciplined in their spiritual lives or have substituted all the peripherals I mentioned above for the real deal; mistaking the clues and treasure maps for the real treasure. Frankly, I could use the company on the journey. If you are a failed "Susie Spiritual" like me and want to do something about it, contact me. I promise, I am not the sweet cheerleader type. I also promise no recriminations, no clucking tongues, no patting you on your hand and saying "there, there now" just a chance to be real and the encouragement to repent and begin again anew.

Lamentations 3:21-26
21 This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
22 The LORD'S lovingkindnesss indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.
23 {They} are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.
24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him."
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.
26 {It is} good that he waits silently for the salvation of the LORD.
(NAS)

1 comment:

Carla said...

Sign me up. Discipline is an elusive thing for me too and I'd be more than happy to take this hard look at it with you.