“The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.” — Psalm 33:11 (NASB)
A Discipline Worth Adopting
Out of my three siblings, I have always been the one with very limited athletic skill. As artistically inclined as I am, I can play you a beautiful song on the piano or write a touching poem, but I cannot make a basket to save my life. Nonetheless, I’ve always admired my brothers who, with ease and natural coordination, seemed to dominate every track, court and field they placed their feet on.
Growing up, my youngest brother in particular excelled in about every sport he touched, from gymnastics to lacrosse. It was football, however, that made him commit. His journey began with little league and by high school he’d been recruited by several universities. But the collegiate level proved to be a struggle.
Year after year, despite hours of practice logged and accolades from peers and coaches regarding his talent, he continued to ride the bench.
One day in particular, sometime around his junior year, he verbalized his frustrations to our mom in such a way that led me to believe he would quit. But he didn’t. Day after day, he remained in the gym, working out, eating right, avoiding late parties and steering clear of anything that might keep him from optimum performance. Initially, watching him ice his swollen muscles and wake up for 4 a.m. practices that might never result in game-day execution appeared foolish. “If they aren’t putting you in the game,” I thought, “why put in the effort?”
Later, I realized that he understood something I didn’t: On days when he felt overlooked or unmotivated, it was the discipline of preparation that would have to carry him through when feelings didn’t offer the incentive. Consistency, when doubt cast its darkest shadow, was going to be a requirement if he wanted to remain primetime ready.
As a believer, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we always felt like praying and drawing near to God through His Word? Sadly, this is not likely a reality.
Even the 21st century dating scene reinforces the notion that all relationships are expendable. and when passion has run its course, we’re free to abandon ship. Everywhere we look, we are encouraged to let our feelings dictate our decisions and drop out of what no longer serves us.
But anyone with a relationship or career of any sort, with any longevity at all, will tell you that “feeling butterflies” all the time is unrealistic.
This is why, in complete contrast, our Father provides a different perspective. Psalm 33:11 (NASB) says, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.” If that doesn’t scream, “I am committed to you regardless,” I don’t know what does!
Wouldn’t it also be beautiful if we too could remain disciplined in our pursuit for more of Him? Not because He is a demanding God, but instead because He’s a loving Dad who has commissioned us to consistently “rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
We get to have a relationship with a personal Father who craves engagement with us whether things are going on … or not. Unlike a careless coach or a flaky lover, He will never leave us benched.
It’s why I would argue that the times when we least feel like praying, or immersing ourselves in His Word, are likely the times we ought to do it the most. Even if for no other reason than to maintain the discipline. Because today, like every day, your Dad wants you to abide in Him (John 15:4) with or without the immediate reward and tickle in your belly.
Don’t wait to “feel it.” Make spending time with Him your routine until your routine becomes a habit. Then let your habit become a joy. Whether on a good day or a bad day, the worst day or the best, engage with Him when you feel like it and engage with Him when you don’t.
Because that’s one discipline worth adopting.
— Jhas Williams
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