We continue in our series “Rhythm” in which we are talking about the central idea of arranging our lives to live in harmony with God, and the central truth that we become our habits.
Last week we talked about attention. We discussed that what we pay attention to we will end up loving. And, we learned a little way of remembering to pray using our hand.
God really, really, really likes spending His day with you. Honestly. He loves it. He loves being involved in your life. He loves being with you each moment. There isn’t anything in your life that God doesn’t want to be involved in.
When you wake up, God is there like: YES. I’M SO EXCITED AND READY TO DO THIS DAY WITH YOU. I’M FREAKING PUMPED UP.
But, sometimes we don’t really want God in our lives that much, and sometimes we do want God in our lives, but we just don’t know how to recognize His presence and excitement.
So, we’re going to look at two verses that will give us an indication on how to begin to live with a little bit more of God in our lives, and establish a rhythm of finding God in our days. Both of these verses talk about habits.
Last week, we looked at the verse that starts with:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart”
But, my question to you is, what is the heart? What does it mean to love someone, or something with all your heart? This is a verse we hear a lot in the church, but rarely do we unpack it. What is the heart and how do we love someone with it?
You are a human being, and you are made up of a lot of different things. You have your body, your heart, your social relationships, a soul, so what does it mean to love something with all your heart?
Well, in the Scriptures, your heart and your will, are the same thing. It is a big plot twist I know!
So, then, the question becomes, what is our will?
Your will is your ability to choose. It is your ability to make choices; to create; to bring something into existence that never existed before. Your will is unique to you.
All our habits, all our choices, everything we’ve created or spoken is the result of our will, and what we choose to do, or watch, or listen to, or pay attention to, we will become.
God created you with a unique will/heart. No one else gets to make the choices you make in your specific context and no one ever will. No one in history has been you, and no one in history will ever be you. You are you, and you alone.
And you are a human being and Human beings have the amazing capacity-no other creature has this-to choose; to think about things, and weigh options, and reflect on the past and predict the future, and make a choice.
So, let’s read this verse again, and let’s use the word will, or how we define it and read it like this:
Love God with all your choices, with everything you create, with all your habits, with all your daily routines and everything you do and don’t do. Whatever it is you choose to do-make it God focused, because no one else will ever be able to live your life with God the way you live your life with God.
Now this is an amazing invitation! And to fully live into it, we need to know what a habit is, and what our habits are! We all have habits and we can’t live without habits and that’s usually a really good thing! Habits are helpful in so many ways, and ultimately, we become our habits. We are what we repeatedly do.
All habits follow the same cycle:
So, brushing our teeth. The cue might be that it’s morning, or we just ate, or our mouths feel gross and dirty. What’s the routine? Right, putting toothpaste on our brush and brushing our teeth? What’s our reward? A fresh feeling, people won’t be grossed out by standing close to us, maybe a kiss, who knows.
And this is true for things like looking at Instagram, chewing our fingernails, twitching our foot, swinging a baseball bat, throwing a football, or doing a pirouette.
But, what about things like:
Giving to the poor?
Loving our enemy?
Not gossipping or making fun of another person?
Standing up against racism?
Do these follow the same habit loop? Absolutely they do. And, our heart-our will, is our ability to choose what our cues and routines, rewards are.
But the challenge is, how many of us are aware of what our habits are, or what they say about us? Let’s do a quick poll:
- How did you spend: Your last 75 dollars?
- What were the last 15 Instagram posts you liked?
- What were you thinking about when you were brushing your teeth this morning? What about when you were putting on your shoes?
- What do you do when you’re stopped at a red light?
- What do you typically eat for dinner? How much does it cost per meal, how does it impact your body and how many people were involved in bringing it to your table?
- Who were the last five people you spent time with?
- Who were the last three people you said thank-you to, or I love you to?
- Who did you last talk on the phone with, send a text to?
See, most of us don’t know how we are spending our time, devoting our attention to, or what habits we have. And we need to know how we spend our days, because, like the author Annie Dillard says,
“How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour is what we do with our life.”
So, knowing how we spend our minutes, hours, days, and years is super important.
Now, a really wonderful thing about habits is that we get to choose what they are. We don’t get to choose if we have habits, but we get to choose what our habits are.
And this is what it means to repent. To repent doesn’t mean to feel bad about who we are or what we’ve done. Rather, when Jesus says “repent for the Kingdom of God is available to you”, he uses the word metanoia, which means, “Think about your thinking. Think about your habits. Think about your way of living. Because, God is near and you can interactively live with Him.”
2000 years ago, the apostle Paul wrote this to some folks he knew:
So here’s what I want you to do: With God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-school-and work, and walking-around life—and place it before God. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.
There’s that attention word again. So, what do we do with that? Well, one way we can put our verses from tonight into practice is through association and prayer.
Choose everyday items you use (phone charger, pillow, toothbrush, car keys) and associate a prayer or a Bible verse with them. That way, when you go to use them, you will be prompted to pray or recite Scripture.