I have unintentionally been conducting an experiment. I mean, my life has been very different over the past couple weeks than it was previously. I want to explain, share, and invite you to try this with me.
Those of you who have been active at our Flower Mound, TX church will be very familiar with this analogy. It is not one that I came up with, but is one that I have found to be INCREDIBLY true to life.
We each have two creatures living in us. (Well...those of us who have the Spirit of God dwelling in us.)
These two creatures are constantly fighting for control of our thoughts, emotions, will, etc. One of these creatures, I will say, wants us to be "of the world." That is, worldly in our thoughts, actions, responses, etc. The other creature wants us to be holy in all that we do. The stronger creature will win in any given battle. The battle over how to react to a screaming toddler. The battle over how to react in really bad traffic. The battle over whether or not we take the time to pray when we see an immediate need. The battle over finding time to be in the Word of God. The battle over whether or not to share that little nugget of interesting "information" about our neighbor with someone. I could go on and on.
Now, what determines which creature is stronger? How come we just can't seem to keep our thoughts away from criticizing that other person at the grocery store?
The creature that is fed the most, will be the strongest.
I have experienced much frustration over wanting to think more holy, act more holy, be more like Christ, but just finding my mind during the day thinking of other things. Not necessarily "bad"things (although that can certainly be an issue as well), but just things that are not beneficial. I will have some wonderful time in the the morning in prayer with every intention and desire to have my thoughts on God all day. To be experiencing His presence. And then, at the end of the day, I look back, and I was as self absorbed and distracted as always. (What I mean by self absorbed is that I am concerned with my life primarily...my to-do list, my issues, my schedule, my kids schedules, etc)
Now, to the experiment. Over the past few weeks I have been insanely busy. I get up at 5am and go to bed around 9:30. I don't have time for TV (we lost they only channels that I watch anyway, so I'm not even tempted), reading fiction, surfing the internet, exercising, or really any extra curricular activities. I have been making gifts, making bread, cooking, keeping the house picked up, but mostly it has been the following.
1. I am preparing, translating, and teaching a class on "how to study the Bible" for women from our church.
2. I have been doing all of the homework that I assign them for the class (which is a lot of time in the Bible).
3. I have been spending a lot of time in prayer for this study and for the women in it.
4. Before going to bed at night, to settle down my mind, I read 1-2 pages in a book called Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan.
All of my "spare" time is doing numbers 1-3. I am even taking some time off from those things to write this blog because it has been on my mind to do it for quite a while and the desire + opportunity will go away if I put it off any longer.
Ever since all of this began, I have noticed that my mind is more focused on the Lord. I turn to God more rapidly when a question arises, when someone is hurt/sick/suffering. I pray more throughout my day. I am more aware of the presence of God! I realized that I have been feeding one creature (the Spirit) and starving the other (the flesh)! I mean, I have always believed that that was true, and hence the value in a devotional time, but I don't know that I had really experienced before the effects of really starving the flesh creature!
So...I am going to continue along these lines for a while. (I am forced to by all of the things I need to do, including preparing a lesson and a sermon for a church this coming weekend) I am even choosing to read more Bible stories to my children instead of just fiction.
Will you join with me? For a week, maybe two? Will you try my experiment? Will you stop watching TV (just for a week!) and stop listening to secular radio, and stop reading anything other than the scripture (or devotional books, or Christian non-fiction, etc)? Will you use that extra time (most likely you will have some) to read the Bible, pray, listen to Christian music?
I would love for you to do this with me, if you aren't already. Then we could compare notes.
Disclaimer: I am in no way opposed to any of the things that I mentioned that we sacrifice for a week! I am not saying that they are sinful, or inherently bad, or un-holy, or anything!!!! Please don't read it that way. It is just that those things don't feed the creature that we want to be the strongest. (Normally, they don't) We as believers should not be so removed from the world that we are ignorant of what is going on around us. We should not isolate ourselves from everything "worldly" and move out to a monastery (although there is nothing wrong with that!). This is just a short term experiment to watch how this truth plays out in our lives.
Will I stop watching all TV after this busy time is over? Most likely not. Will I stop reading fiction all together? Probably not, but I do believe that I will be making some changes after this time. What those permanent changes will be are still yet to be determined.
Let me know if you will participate with me.