Hopelessly Devoted to You

9:49 AMHeather

My cousin, Melinda, recently made a comment about how she, too, had been bit by the gym bug, and was really hooked.  I laughed out loud.  Because I thought it was a gross overstatement and misconception of my trips to the gym.  Yes, I have started back to the gym.  But, to say that I am somehow "hooked" to it is just not true.  I grit my teeth and do it.  I HOPE that I can someday be like my friend, Cristel, who took advantage of her kidless hours by choosing to go the gym.  But, at this point, I have to say that I am just not feeling it.

And, that makes me wonder something.  How do I approach my time with the Lord?  Am I devoted to daily spending time in prayer and fellowship with Him, digging into his Word?  Do I find joy and fulfillment in that habit?  Or, do I just grin and bear it?  Do I see it as I do my exercise routine--it's a must and it's good for me, therefore I SHOULD do it?  So, I have to press myself to be motivated for it?  Have I yet to find that connection to it that just makes me jump out of bed, eager to invest myself in time with the Lord?  

The truth of it is that sometimes I am excited and ready and want to pick up where I left off the day before.  Some days, I know I need that time in prayer or the encouragement of the Scripture to be able to press forward through the day ahead.  And, some days--it is more like the gym.  I think, "Well, this is something I should do, it's good for me, so I guess I will.  I guess I will make it a point to stop and clear time for this."  

I'm just keeping it real, folks.  Don't judge me--because I'm sorta guessing that you might wrestle with this back and forth tug of war about the devotion of having a daily "devotion" and time with the Lord.

Ezra is a man who it would seem might teach us a thing or two.  My Women of Faith study Bible describes Ezra's leadership as "providing a sure foundation for ordinary people who want their lives to count for God.  Ezra not only listens to and learns from God's word, but he also applies himself to sharing what he has learned (Ezra 7:10).  Ezra's passion for God spills over into his daily life and helps bring revival to his nation."

Wow.  I wouldn't mind being described that way.  I wonder if Ezra ever felt a lack of motivation to dive into the Word?  I wonder if Ezra ever hit the snooze button instead of jumping up for prayer to start his day?  Or was he some superhero of faith, and NEVER struggled with a "grin and bear it" attitude toward Bible study?  

I don't really know these answers.  That falls into my "someday in eternity I will ask" category.  But, I have a thought I want to share.  I sorta bet Ezra did feel like I do.  I'm just guessing that he had down days, too.  Because we know for sure that he was human.  And, as I read Ezra 7:9-10, I had an epiphany that just might help me with the hum-drums.

9 He had begun his journey from Babylon 
on the first day of the first month, and 
he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day 
of the fifth month, for the gracious hand 
of his God was on him. 10 For Ezra had 
devoted himself to the study and 
observance of the Law of the LORD, 
and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. 

I see a little if/then correlation here.  But, before I get to that, here's my epiphany.  I think Ezra had made a decision.  He had decided that choosing God's path was going to be his way, whether he always felt it or not.  I think Ezra grasped that truth that we cannot count on our emotions or be led by them.  We have to go beyond that to something more if we want to stay the course.  We have to CHOOSE to study and observe the Law.  We have to choose to teach it's decrees and laws to those around us.  We have to choose to get up, no matter how we feel.  We have to choose--ahead of time--to halt our day in order to spend time in prayer and in the Word.  It's a choice.  Otherwise, we won't stay our course.  

And, as we press on, day by day, our deliberate choosing, I believe, will become a habit.  And, before we know it, we find delight in it.  We realize how it impacts us.  And, then, one day, it dawns on us, we are devoted.  It's a discipline that has greatly benefited and changed us.  We don't let our emotions lead us, but we let the Lord lead us.  We can honestly tell Him, "I'm not feeling it, God.  I want to hit snooze.  Help me get up and spend time with you!  Because I know it's a good choice.  And, can you please bring me delight and fulfillment and even DEVOTION with this?"  Make that your honest heart cry.  Because that's a prayer He's happy to answer.  

Glimpse of grace:  The if/then that I mentioned?  Ezra was devoted to the Word and to the Lord.  And, THEN, God's gracious hand was on him.  How devoted am I?  Do I want God's gracious hand on me more than a few minutes of extra sleep or more than other distractions that vie for my attention?  Do I want his gracious hand on me more than anything?  Do I crave that, seek that, fight for that, cherish that, long for that?  Or, do I take it all for granted?  Putting God on a shelf until it's an opportune time?  

Do you want to know that happens when we ask God to help us be devoted to Him--when we crave his gracious hand on us more than anything else?  We can have results like Ezra.  The king allowed the Israelites, who had been held captive in Babylon, to return to Jerusalem.  He even gave them supplies and provisions, along with his blessing.  Ezra said, "Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me."

Wrap your brain around this.  When we are devoted--when we CHOOSE to be devoted and we CHOOSE to earnestly seek Him, asking Him to help us desire nothing more than Him--THEN, He can use us to lead nations, to move kings, to rebuild ruins.  We can take courage to do big things, and we can find stamina to do even the mundane well.  When our hearts are set on God's favor.  Let's fix our eyes on Christ--asking Him to help us do so--and let's choose to start a habit.  Today.  Then, the next and the next.  In the words of the great philosopher, Nike, just do it!

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