It’s 6:30am (or earlier). The alarm goes off. It’s Monday morning. You know you need to get up. The niggling voice in your head tells you to get up so you can read the Bible and pray before you need to be out of the house. You don’t feel like it and it seems like work. The desire just isn’t there. You hit the snooze button. Now there’s no time. The day blows by, you hit the pillow at 11pm feeling guilty that you didn’t pray or read Scripture. You squeeze in five minutes before you fall asleep.
It’s 6:30am (or earlier). The alarm goes off. It’s now Tuesday morning. You didn’t get up to read or pray yesterday, so why bother today.
Sound familiar? Does the thought of daily spiritual exercise seem like never ending drudgery? We don’t like to admit it, but sometimes, perhaps more often than not, it is. When this happens it’s because we’ve lost the big picture. We’ve lost sight of the goal. The prize. The reward.
Don Whitney illustrates this with a story about little Johnny. Johnny is 10 years old and for months has been begging his parents to buy him a guitar. Eventually they give in, but only if Johnny promises to practice for 1 hour a day and take lessons once a week. Eager little Johnny doesn’t think twice before promising to practice 2 hours a day and take as many lessons as they want to get him, so long as he gets a guitar.
What little Johnny hasn’t thought through is that summer vacation is just around the corner. Fast forward to the middle of July and Johnny is up in his room, playing the same scale over, and over, and over again. He’s bored out of his mind. What makes everything worse is that he hears his friends out on the street playing ball hockey. Without him. Why did he want this stupid guitar in the first place?
Suddenly, an angel appears and whisks Johnny away in a vision to a giant arena. On stage is a man with a guitar, a true virtuoso, playing in a way that Johnny has never seen before. After a few songs, the angel turns to this 10 year old boy and says, “That’s you, 20 years from now.”
Now, they’re back in Johnny’s room, and once the angel leaves, what do you think this young boy is going to do? Go outside and play ball hockey, or get back to his guitar with renewed passion and excitement?
When it’s 6:30 on Monday morning, we’re just like little Johnny. What we need to remember is what the spiritual disciplines are going to make us look like, who they’re going to make us be like. When we read Scripture, and pray, and worship, and serve, and fast, and witness, we do it for the purpose of becoming more godly. Discpline yourself for the purpose of godliness, Paul writes to Timothy. When we practice the spiritual disciplines we’re becoming more holy. When we practice the spiritual disciplines we’re actually being conformed to the likeness of Christ.
Doesn’t that change our perspective, even a little? To think, that in the privacy of our bedrooms, when we rub sleep out of our eyes, open our Bibles, and meet with God in prayer, He makes us more like His glorious Son – to the point that when one day the work is complete we will be like Him for we will see Him like He is. Could we ask for a greater reward of discipline?
Tomorrow morning, when your alarm goes off, what are you going to do? You could continue looking like, thinking like, sounding like, and acting like yourself. Or, you could engage in some spiritual exercise to look, think, sound, and act more like your Saviour.
The decision is yours…just keep your eyes on the prize.