Is there step in your Christian walk where you really feel you're falling short but want to do something? You know you’re not being faithful but you want to grow. Maybe you're struggling to read your Bible daily. Or maybe you don't see how you can give a regular offering to God in support of his mission at your local church or other ministries, or both. Fasting? Or maybe you're struggling to gather with your local congregation.
Spiritual formation is often about forming habits and the formation of a habit takes strategic effort. Reserving a space for the thing you're lacking but want to do is a great start for growth.
When I was first starting a church plant, we set a budget that had line items for sending another church planter, foreign mission work, and even a building fund. This was a time when our weekly offering was a few bucks and some loose change. We were fundraising and had no money (and, really, we still don't) so why would we set these items in the budget? Because we reserved a space for them to grow in the future. It was about being faithful. These line items had extremely small percentages of our undesignated collected offering. It was almost comical how much we saved in each line item, but we were honoring God by making an effort, even if it was all we could do. Each year we try to up these percentages. It's not easy, but it's faithful and they serve as a placeholder for growth. It’s something, and that’s more than doing nothing.
How does this illustration translate into your life?
Are you are struggling to read your Bible every day? Set yourself to read one verse per day. Maybe it seems silly, but it will reserve a space for you and God and you'll be in your Bible daily. That’s something! As you grow, you can up it to two or three verses. If you keep this up, eventually you'll grow into entire chapters, then more and more chapters. Additionally, you'll begin to grow in this spiritual discipline and enjoy it.
Is the offering plate passing by you unchanged. If you're presently not giving to the mission of God at your local church through financial offerings and gifts, you should. It's an act of worship. "But I can't afford it," you might say. Try this. Every pay period, give $1. Not just $1 cash in the plate, but take the time to write a check or give online (or through text giving). Make it an intentional act every pay period. Be mindful of God and the spiritual discipline to give. And maybe as you start this, you'll give up one of those coffee drinks so you can up your giving to $5. See what happens when you act in obedience and faith. Doing something, even if it’s $1, reserves space for God to work in your life, and it's much better than making excuses to the Lord.
Do you fast? If not, start by setting a fast for a single meal per month. Skip a meal and pray every time you feel hungry. It might not seem like much, but it’s more fasting than you aren’t doing now. It’s a start and it reserves a space for God to grow you.
Having a hard time making church attendance a priority? Many people struggle to go to church regularly. "I'm tired" or "I'm too busy" they say. The problem is not Sunday morning, it's Saturday night. Reserve space for this spiritual discipline by setting an evening bedtime on Saturday. If it’s not the evening, maybe it’s the chores in the day. Trying getting off the couch even for just a little bit on Saturday. It's really not that difficult. And by reserving space and time, you'll find it's not too difficult to attend a worship service with fellow believers. As you do this over time, making worship with your faith-family a priority, you’ll be surprised how much God grows you through it.
Spiritual formation starts with a little discipline. And discipline starts by reserving a space for God to work, even if only a tiny bit. Create a space holder until you've grown more. Be intentional about a strict effort that will lead to your spiritual growth and faithfulness. Watch what God might do if you reserve the space.