I must admit I am a little anxious starting up this study In the Garden. The Lord helped me pinpoint a few reasons this morning. I have a fear of failing. Last summer when I participated in a Thistlebend study I had a one year old with very erratic sleeping habits and very early morning awakenings and middle of the night sleep disturbances. I felt like I could never get into a routine, and sadly my prayer journal was never completed like I had hoped. It felt very defeating as I cried out to the Lord for His help but constantly had to fight and struggle for every moment of time with Him.
I also had to confess to Him that I am comfortable with my current prayer life. I don’t write out my prayers very often, and although I get up most mornings to spend time with the Lord, my morning prayer time is often erratic and inconsistent. I do sense His presence and nearness and I talk to Him throughout the day; so why the need to invest more time and energy into this discipline? My pride and unbelief keep me from delving even deeper into prayer and communion with my Father.
As with so many things in our lives, fear and apathy keep us paralyzed or just in a stupor and unaware that there is so much more. I LOVE that we are memorizing the 23rd Psalm and am deeply ministered to by the truth of Jesus being MY Good Shepherd. He is so personal, so loving, so compassionate. I realized this morning as I was praying that I must let go of my guilt over failed attempts at deepening my prayer life. My guilt holds me captive and makes me fearful of even trying again to journal more or develop my prayer journal. But Jesus has removed even the guilt of my sin, and I must cling to Him and His grace in my weakness.
We must walk forward, following our Shepherd by faith, ONE step at a time. What is ONE practical thing you can do in obedience and out of love and devotion for your Savior during this study? Maybe it means taking a break from social media and going to bed a bit earlier every night so you can wake up a half hour earlier? Maybe it is actually setting an alarm….away from your bed on your phone to get your body out of bed. For me, I need to not only get up but sit at my desk and not just in my comfy rocker with my blanket where I often drift back to sleep.
Sometimes we need a change in perspective. Moving a few things around in our schedule or sacrificing some of our “me” time to spend time with Jesus is not hard. Being physically or emotionally tortured or abused for your faith is hard. There are so many Christians around the world who are actually suffering for their faith. We are willing to sacrifice for so many other things in our lives…our diets, exercise, budgets, etc. Why do we complain and whine when it comes to sacrificing for Jesus?
May we have great faith to believe that every small sacrifice we make with a humble and earnest heart will be multiplied by our Father in heaven! The greatest reward will be a bond with our Savior that cannot be broken and true, deep healing for our hearts.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Heb 12:1-3,13)
Rooted in Christ