I often count as I’m working out. Sometimes I’ll count forward and sometimes backward. Forward counting gives me a sense of accomplishment. It also seems to pass the time and take my mind off the effort. I usually find myself backward counting when I am close to a goal and want the satisfaction of the remaining time and repetitions diminishing. I think we all have a “one more” mentality. The question is whether we focus on one more sit-up or one more potato chip!
Consider what you’d prioritize as needing “one more.”
Shift your focus a bit and consider what you’d prioritize as wanting “one more.”
Is there a difference?
What about in your spiritual life? It’s easy to get overwhelmed with what’s not getting done, the areas in which you feel you fall short. Just like physical challenges, you might assess you don’t work out enough. You’re not active enough. You don’t have enough motivation and stamina. And just like physical challenges, the answer is usually “take it one step at a time.” Just one more.
Do you feel you’re falling short in prayer? You don’t have to stay on your knees for an hour. Just talk to God. Share what’s going on. Start somewhere.
Do you feel you’re falling short in service? You don’t have to build a house for someone or give away a thousand dollars. Just do something for someone else. Bake cookies for someone. Buy the person’s lunch next to you in the fast food line. Open the door for someone. Let someone ahead of you in the grocery line. Live generously with your time, energy and resources. Start somewhere.
Do you feel you’re falling short in Bible study? You don’t have to read through the Bible in a year. You don’t have to diagram the life of Christ or the journeys of Paul. You don’t have to memorize Old Testament genealogy. Sign up for an online daily devotional. Join a six-week small group study at church. Ask a friend to join you at your house for a weekly study and connection time. Invite accountability. Start somewhere.
Do you feel you’re falling short in living out your faith on a daily basis? We can all grow! Challenge yourself to keep a journal of your God-encounters every day. It doesn’t have to be award-winning writing. You don’t even have to write in full sentences. Jot the date along with a phrase, word, or location to remind you of the moments you sensed God’s presence, relied on him, asked him, or in any way engaged him in your life. The more you encounter him, the more you’ll look for him. The more you look for him, the more you’ll recognize his presence in your life. Start somewhere.
When you count forward in your spiritual life, you can get frustrated, because you easily get into the comparison game with others. You just finished your first Bible study; then you talk to someone who has been regularly studying for years. You’ve started a daily devotional and brief time of prayer journaling; someone else writes her own devotionals and distributes them to hundreds of women. You spend an hour at the hospital reading to and encouraging a friend; someone else just returned from the Dominican Republic to feed hungry orphans. Counting forward will only cause you to play a numbers game with yourself and others.
Counting backward can be equally deceptive, because we have no idea how many days, hours, and opportunities we have remaining. Only God knows the timing of our lives. However, you can always give “just one more.” You can pray just one more time. You can study just one more Scripture. You can give one more dollar. You can sacrifice one more hour. You can share God’s love with one more person.
God wants your obedience. You can choose to give it to him one step at a time.