Let me clarify… my heart breaks for those who have lost family members and friends to the Corona virus. But as I wrote in my last post, I am working to push myself to find reasons and opportunities to worship Him in the midst of difficulties as well as on the mountain top.
Never have I been one to make New Year’s resolutions. I have always felt as thought they were just ways to guarantee we lie to ourselves and to whomever else we share them with. Nor have I been one to pick a word for the year. No specific reason, I just never have done the whole “word” thing.
Each year I set a few personal goals (same thing, I know). But they are things I make conscience efforts throughout the year to strive to accomplish. In January I wrote on my white board in my office, “Pray More, Read More, Build More.” Those are my three goals for 2020.
Moving into my new ministerial role, I am hungry to grow in my faith and my relationship with Christ. I also know that if I do not make take steps to pray and read, I will not grow in my faith or abilities. And on a purely personal note, I like to build stuff. It’s a hobby that is therapeutic for me and helps me clear my head.
Prayer is a spiritual discipline that I’m “okay” at, but I’m not comfortable with “okay.” I want to grow in my prayer life. I could write all the reasons my prayer life is not as strong as I want it to be, but none of them are adequate excuses. It ultimately comes down to a lack of discipline, focus, and priority.
Another one of my many struggles is reading. Don’t get me wrong, I read well, I even retain a decent amount of what I read. My problem for years has been that I don’t sit still long enough and prioritize reading. Finding time that is quiet and without distraction is difficult in itself, but ultimately it is about making the time to read and finishing the books I start (Jon Acuff’s book, Finish is sitting on my desk. I started it last fall and I’ve read 2/3 of it… ironic, isn’t it?).
I love the sound of power tools in my garage. I love the smell of wood shavings and saw dust. I love the way a piece of wood feels with a perfectly rounded edge and a 220 grit sanded finish. I love drawing out the plans and figuring out a way to build it. I love learning new techniques and improving on other ones. I have gone out to my garage after putting the kids to bed to spend an hour on a project and found myself still working at 2:00 in the morning. It is my therapy session.
In steps COVID-19…
COVID seems to have brought a little extra time to my weeks. It has removed one of the many reasons I give for not praying more, reading more, and building more. I have tried to be more intentional in my prayer time. There are days it is easier than others… but I’m trying.
In February I decided to commit to reading for my personal growth and to dig into leadership development. I’m reading Designed to Lead by Geiger and Peck where they make the argument that the church should be the primary source of leadership development. I’m currently in Week 5 of leading a friend through Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God where ironically God is showing me that He is still developing things in me so that I can grow in character and in relationship with Him. As I am reading about leadership development, God is developing me.
So why am I grateful for COVID-19? It’s given me more opportunities to carve out free time than I’ve ever had before. I still have to decide what I fill that free time with (Netflix has made this difficult at times), but it’s there. When our circumstances force us to strip away all activities and programs we get to decide what we do in their place. When you suddenly have your evenings free of soccer, baseball, meetings, etc. what are you filling that time with? Are you eating dinner with the family more? Yard work? Gardening? Watching TV? Reading?
I am praying that during all of this craziness I am able to create some habits of spiritual discipline that will carry over into our new normal after everything opens back up and I begin to interact with people again.