Yesterday was the climax of a stressful week. For the first time in years I find myself in a classroom, being overwhelmed by information I must quickly absorb, understand and act upon. Saturday was our first assessment and I must admit, I was a bit stressed by it. I am an overachiever. A pass is not good enough for me. I want close to perfection in everything I do. My wife told me not to be stressed but to trust God. I knew Jesus would be faithful to me, but it was me I was stressed over: Did I study enough? Did I forget to study anything? Was there anything I didn't understand?
Stress is a natural part of our life and some have said that stress is what keeps us alive and motivated. However, we all know that too much stress will kill you. I am a person who knows that stress can have ill effects on my health. Even normal living stress can build up with time like an electrical charge in us. My way of dealing with this "charge" in my body is to do physical activity. This activity acts to release this charge through the exercise of my body so there are no ill effects from built up stress. But, at the end of the day yesterday I was tired.
It was a beautiful Spring day in a month when it is usually still cold and there is usually still snow. So being a beautiful day, the children wanted their bikes out. Well, it is never a simple matter of opening the garage and taking the bikes out. First, all the tires need to be pumped and then all the chains and moving parts have to be oiled. After that comes the washing and the checking of the safety equipment. There are seven children with bikes plus two adults, and our friends have four bikes as well. That's a total of thirteen bicycles after a stressful assessment. By supper time I was exhausted and I had not gone for the walk I needed to go on to disperse the stress I could feel in my body.
I checked with my wife but she is nearly six months pregnant and she had helped with the bikes plus she had been doing the laundry so she was no longer interested in a walk. I was exhausted and really just wanted to go to bed. I was greatly tempted to just forget about the walk. After all, I am not out of shape so one day was not going to kill me. But, the walk was not just about staying in shape, it was my mechanism to deal with the stress in my body. I overcame my temptation to not go for my walk by remembering the benefit of that walk. Discipline will not be long lasting if we do not understand our motivation.
So often I push people to remember the need for the relationship ingredients that we must participate in to remain refreshed with Jesus. I talk about and write about our need for studying the Bible, prayer, worship, fellowship and witnessing. These are all the ingredients we need for staying strong in Jesus but if it does not go beyond habit and discipline, to a place of understanding the benefits, then the discipline will be quickly lost, or it will become a dull and stale activity, without purpose.
When we open our Bible we must have the understanding that we are about to feed our soul the food it needs to be sustained in Jesus Christ. If we do not see it as the fuel we need to keep going in the Spirit it will just become a thing we have to do in the day. I can feel myself become spiritually weak if I have allowed busyness to keep me away from my "meal". I know the benefit so I know I must reserve the time to "eat". It is not a stale and dull meal as I dive into the richness of its flavours. The same is true for prayer and worship. If I do not make these the pivotal point of my day, I know that I am slowly starving myself to death. They are not a religious activity I have added to my life; they are what enables me to live. When you have this understanding, your motivation becomes a different thing entirely.
I don't care who you think you are, if you are not rich in Bible study, prayer and worship, you are not rich in Jesus Christ. I am glad you accepted him as your Lord and Saviour but now you need to learn how you can be rich in him. You need to learn how he is your everything. You need to understand what real communion is as you allow him to replace everything you were. You need to allow this relationship to move you from being centered on yourself to being centered on Jesus, from being controlled by your flesh to being controlled by the Spirit. This is the relationship you were saved for. You are spiritually poor, facing spiritual salvation if you do not understand where you get your food from. Your motivation for Bible study, prayer and worship is to stay alive in Jesus and not to experience starvation. I doubt you are too tired to eat supper tonight so don't use your tiredness as an excuse to skip your spiritual meals today either. You need to eat to stay alive.