I have goals in life. I have things I know I should be doing. I have things I know I probably shouldn’t be doing. Yet without a lot of focus, I always tend to drift back into a lethargic complacency. How many times have we said “Yeah….I really need to _________” “Yeah…. I probably should ________”. It reminds me of that commercial they used to play when I was a kid (probably sometime during the 80s) that said “No one ever says, ‘I wanna be a junkie when I grow up'”. We don’t plan on becoming bumps on logs, it just happens.
I don’t think I’m a junkie, but I do wrestle with disappointment from not doing the things I feel like I need to be doing. Remember that neighbor I’ve talked about? I had high hopes for what might unfold there. (Well, I still do) I still haven’t talked to him. But I HAVE watched a lot of TV. There’s something about self-indulgence and complacency that sometimes makes me not like being human. Have I not yet come to realize the emptiness of living for myself?
Ok, before this gets real depressing, there is something interesting that I learned once from Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church. This is really a side note. He gave a talk on Christian community and was talking about how we all fall into the trap of spiritual stagnation. We get high hopes for growth but somehow manage to not make it very far. He had a 3 legged stool on the stage with him with two legs. Often times, we have 2 of the legs but not the third. One leg is our Conviction. We know what is right and wrong. We have a strong belief in it. One leg is commitment. We dedicate ourselves to change. We rely on our will power. We make decisions for positive change (remember your new year’s resolutions?). But we often are missing that third leg. And when Andy lets go of the stool, it hits the stage with an echoing thud.
The third leg is Connections. It’s those relationships that are deep enough, strong enough, that those people have influence on us. It’s those friends that actually will call us out on bad decisions in life and encourage us toward wise decisions. It’s those friends who we will feel we let down when we don’t do what we commit to do in life. It’s those people who will do the hard thing and tell us the truth in love – or tell us the things we don’t want to hear.
I see this playing out right now in my half-marathon training. Conviction: I need to train in order to run the race (and get in shape). Commitment: I have my training schedule and have been following it rigidly. Connection: My wife and kid’s support has been critical in my training – sometimes I think I can skip a day of running but they won’t let me.
Have you noticed how much energy it takes to cultivate positive lifestyle changes? Have you noticed a naturally drift toward self-indulgence and complacency? I suppose it’s human nature. What do we do with this disappointment? Sometimes I feel like I’m not getting anywhere and sometimes I feel like I’m not sure where I am even going. Should we just give up?
As Paul would say, by all means, no! I won’t let it get me down because I have hope. The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead (there’s my shout-out to Easter) is living in me and can raise these dry bones off the couch. I will boast in my weakness. In my addiction to M&Ms and coffee. The Lord’s strength is made perfect in my laziness!
I’ll end with a word of wisdom and food for thought from an old friend. He once talked about the difference between obedience and excellence. We should always choose obedience. Excellence says we will just try harder. Obedience says we will do what is right.