Bible Studying :: A Plan of Action

I have a mean case of the Januaries.

I don't want to do the chores, because I'm pretty sure I've already washed the dishes twelve billion times this January alone. I don't feel like going anywhere or doing anything because it's cold and icky in January. I don't feel like doing anything fun at home because all the fun was had in December, and now I'm bored. There's not much to look forward to in February so January seems even looooooonger.

Maybe you too have a case of the Januaries? (Hopefully mild, not mean like mine.)

It hasn't just been stuff around my house, even my Bible studying has had a case of the Januaries.

I feel like it's pretty normal to get into a bit of a rut with your routine, whether at home or with your time with the Lord. Isn't that what New Year's resolutions are all about? Spicing things up, setting new goals, getting excited about possible future accomplishments! 

Last week after I read Mel's post (in case you missed it, you should give it a read), I felt a little spark to my fire. A renewal of interest and excitement for getting back in the Word! Ever since the Christmas season, my efforts have been sporadic at best. I had kept telling myself that when the chaos of Christmas subsided, I would get back into a better routine. But then I got hit with a (mean and growly) case of the Januaries and other usual busyness, and I didn't want to do much of anything at all. And you know how it ends... me, sitting here, writing about how I need to get into my Bible again!

After thinking about this a bit-- Side note: I'm one of those people that painfully contemplates decisions and ideas for far longer than is ever necessary, just ask my poor friends--, I think I am going to go about it like this: Start Planning Ahead. Why I needed to contemplate so long for such a simple answer, who knows!

Plan Ahead! 

Whenever I am overwhelmed by things, or distracted from the tasks that I need to accomplish, I make a plan. Usually I do this one week at a time. My cleaning schedule falls into a weekly routine. I plan my groceries for one week at a time. I even figure out which days I'm going to workout during any given week. I write down a list of tasks for each day of the week, and cross them off as the days and week go on. The question really is, why wouldn't I add my plans for Bible studies to those things? It only seems logical to make better plans to be in the Word more if I do it for mundane things like keeping my house clean.

This is so simple!

It's so simple I'm almost embarrassed. (Okay, I am a little.)

Might you also need a little kick in the pants to get motivated? Would making some sort of plan or goal help you crawl out of your trench?

I encourage you to put a little effort into a plan of action. Plan out your devotion time for the week. Search for a new book you want to read. Read the Scripture readings for the upcoming Sunday. Enlist a few friends to form a Bible study group!

 Try it for a week or two or three or four even and see if it helps! I'm right here with you, giving it a whirl myself! 

I suspect that we won't be disappointed. Well, I suspect nobody was really ever disappointed by reading their Bible more! But I suspect you won't be disappointed by the process of figuring it all out ahead of time. That little bit of effort will make the actual time spent in the Word that much more productive, intentional, and worthwhile. 

It might be just the kind of new routine you needed to get yourself out of the "Januaries."

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How I Married Mr. Right

I started chasing boys pretty early in life. I remember I sent a boy a secret admirer note in the 2nd grade with a bullet point list of all the characteristics I liked about him. He was “smart, funny, nice”, and so on. I remember there were over 20 bullet points and at the very bottom of the list was “cute”, because I didn’t want to draw too much attention to the fact that I thought he was cute just incase he figured out who I was.

I was pretty convinced that I was “in love” with him for about 5 years. I had changed schools every year or two because my dad was a second career pastor, so I only actually went to school with my secret crush for two years. I never forgot him though. He was everything I thought I needed in a man (*chuckle*), and I always held him as the standard. I would daydream about bumping into him again someday and having him confess his love to me, having missed me so much, with the same frequency as most girls at the time were swooning over Jonathan Taylor Thomas or Devon Sawa.

When I got to high school and even then to college, my list of criteria stayed pretty much the same. In fact, I had a pretty good idea what kind of guy was right for me. I felt that I had a decent grasp on who was “in my league”, and I was perfectly capable of handling all the details of my “love life”. I could find someone who fulfilled my list of qualifications all on my own.

“Christian” was always on my list of criteria, but unfortunately I did not allow God to play the leading role in helping me find my Mr. Right. I had it all under control.

I did not have it all under control.

Being married to my husband, the most perfect and amazing man for me, was nothing short of a miracle worked by God having mercy on my sinful soul.

I kept a journal for about two years, starting right around the time I met Shawn.

Every time I read it I cry. (I’m not a crier...) I can’t believe he stuck around after all I put him through. Page after page I read words that are heartbreaking as I wonder how I could have been so conflicted when God was being so clear:

 

“Shawn is the storybook prince every girl wants to treat her like gold & the son-in-law of every parents dreams.”

 

“Sometimes I feel like the devil is tempting me with (John Doe) away from Shawn, who God wants me to be with, but I don’t know...”

 

“Shawn is perfect”

 

“Shawn will be a better father”

 

“I want to marry Shawn, but right now I just want to date (John Doe)”

wedding kiss 

Why is it that we can see our lives and our sin so much clearer in retrospect? Looking back it is so clear I was continually getting in God’s way. I thought I knew what I needed better than He did. God was making it painfully obvious how perfect my husband was for and to me, and I was blinded by my own sin and my own ideas of what I wanted.

 

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

I could have quoted these words of Jeremiah at any point during my “dating life”, and would have told you how true and important they were to my life. Somehow, though, I “applied” this verse to the vague, bigger picture of my life or would pick and choose when I wanted to allow the words in. I rarely let it penetrate into the private and pained aspects of my life and let it do its work.

God planned for me to be with my husband. A great deal of pain and heartache would have been avoided if I would have just listened to God and put His priorities before my own. Isn’t that the case with so many aspects of our lives? Do you find yourself trusting your own desires and ideas before God’s plan for you? Of course, we’d certainly not admit that at the time. How difficult it can be to trust God’s plan when it is different than our own!

 

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

   and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

   and he will make your paths straight

 

I ended up bumping into my crush from the 2nd grade during my freshman year of college. I should have known then that maybe I couldn’t be trusted with determining my future husband. Only God knows the future.

I was very blessed that God finally put a stop to my interfering with my love life. Things are so, so much better when I let Him take control. I even ended up with someone who may not be “perfect”, but is “smart, funny, nice & cute”, and at least 20 more characteristics that I admire.

If you’re conflicted or struggling with something in your life, maybe it’s time to trust that maybe God knows better what you need than you know yourself.

 

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