Is it really 11 months since I started this series on Spiritual Disciplines? And have those months been a time of growth and transformation? I guess you could call the month’s spiritual discipline, “The Holy Habit of taking stock“. I’ll come back to that in a bit.
In 2 Kings, there’s a stand-out passage for me. It’s the story of Josiah. Specifically, this lad becomes king at the age of eight (my Big Boy just turned 7: having him rule the country in a year is a terrifying thought!) and eighteen years later, the book of the law is found during a temple clearout. It’s odd and staggering. Odd, because it seems that it was found in the process of routine repairs being made to the temple. So the temple hasn’t simply fallen into disuse. And staggering, because it makes me wonder what on earth people were doing (in a religious sense) during those eighteen years. Because they find the book of the law, and when Josiah has it read to him, he tears his robes in anguish and fear:
Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us
because those who have gone before us
have not obeyed the words of this book
It gets me wondering how they were going through the motions and yet had apparently misplaced the book of the law in the process.
But then I think back to the number of times over the last year that I’ve managed to misplace my Bible (I could claim that this is because I do my Bible study in various different places around the house, but that would be a pretty lame excuse). And I realise that I, too, need to assess how fixed my ‘Holy Habits’ are and whether I’m going through the motions, or actually allowing the habits to make a genuine and lasting change to me and my relationship with God. If you remember my first post on the subject, (which you probably don’t – I certainly had to look it up), you’ll recall that I determined to ‘put a bit more effort in’. But the fact of the matter is, Holy Habits don’t stay habits if you stop doing them. So the effort I needed to put in at the start of the year needs still to be put in at the end of the year, and the start of next year, and the year after that…
So while I’d love to read the story of Josiah and simply shake my head in a sad, disapproving sort of way. What I actually need to do is read the story and realise I’m guilty of the same kind of indiscipline (though even I haven’t lost my Bible for that long!).
So perhaps this month is a time for looking back over the year – thinking about any resolutions about having better online and offline habits, and assessing how we did. It’s a good chance to take stock. And while we as Christians seem often to be encouraged to beat ourselves up about failure, why not just recognise our shortcomings and resolve (again!) to put some more effort in. I have used social media and the like more this year than ever before, and that means I’ve probably made more mistakes in this area than ever before! Perhaps we could use all our jazzy social media, blogging and the like to spur each other on in Holy Habits into 2014 and beyond. I, for one, could do with regular reminders to check my habits and work on them. I know that spending time each month considering spiritual disciplines has certainly helped me make more progress in this area than I would have otherwise. But I also know that there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
On a positive note, I’ve been pretty clean-shaven for most of the year. That’s one habit that seems to have sunk in. And have a Happy Christmas everyone