What Really Counts
Like a drowning man reaching for a lifeline, we who struggle with consistency, stretch every muscle and tendon to grasp the ability that eludes us—the ability to be consistent in the things than count.
- It isn’t that we don’t know their importance; we know it deeply.
- It isn’t a lack of concern for the future or the lack of vision for tomorrow; we are obsessed with thoughts of the future and plagued by a plethora of visions.
- It isn’t even a lack of the ability to concentrate for we can get so deeply involved in some things that all other considerations fade to black.
The hindrance to consistency in the things that count, is not a lack of things to do, but an over abundance of things to do. Not knowing where to start, we don’t start at all.
Yet, the world at large and Kingdom of God in particular belong to the consistent.
Those are valued most are those who stay on schedule, meet deadlines, and whose daily disciplines prepare them both for the planned and the unplanned events of the day. We admire those people and want to have plenty of them around. We marry them, work for them, and depend on them. We depend upon the very consistency they possess but cannot share with us. We must be a terrible drain on them.
We won’t give up.
We will keep on making new starts, attempting new strategies, and buying new planners, calendars, and cell phone apps. We will by new Bibles, devotionals, and prayer books. For a while, each new attempt succeeds. Each new device enables, and we are consistent at last. Then something derails us:
- Financial setbacks,
- Shifting living circumstances,
- Extra stress at work or at home, and, scariest of all,
- A cloud of depression blots out the life-giving sunlight we need to keep going.
With the unexpected, the discipline is broken. We don’t give up easily. We try to recover the discipline, but too many times, the planner goes into the box with all the others. The food plan is violated. The exercise routine is interrupted. The new Bible goes on the shelf, another addition to the collection. The devotional gets way out of date and the prayer book gathers dust. We are practically right back where we started.
Except for this: during the time of consistency we actually produced stuff!
We did our work.
We prayed. We lost weight and gained strength. Consistency always yields progress. Even as discipline evaporates in the face of whatever knocked our life’s train off the tracks, the train is in in a different place than where we started.
The train has cargo that still can be delivered to its destination. There is a record of appointments kept, schedules completed, and consistent dependability. It may feel like we are right back where we started, but we are not. Our season of consistency has been a season of peace and productivity.
When life has knocks us to the ground, we really have only one choice—get up and start again! There is no shame in a new start. They all count and they all mount up to something that would not exist even we hadn’t started again. No one else can do our work, write our poems, sing our songs, speak our words, or hold the hurting people in this world with our arms.
When we seem to lose the disciplines of life, we have to find them again and make another new start. There is no other option. Even if we only do it in fits and starts, we still make a contribution to the world for good.
2 Corinthians 4:7-10
…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
2 Peter 1:5-9
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Lord Jesus help me be true to You today in everything I say and do, think about doing and intend to do. Sometimes my intentions don’t ever become deeds. Forgive me for falling short of what You want me to do. Thank You for distracting me from doing things that would displease You. Lord, You know me and all my struggles. Forgive me for the times I have failed and help me remember the times I have been consistent and finished the work You assigned. As I behold You today, strengthen me and steady me so that my consistency might be established in You. For Your glory, Lord! Amen.
Living for Jesus
Words: Thomas O. Chisolm; Music: C. Harold Lowden
Thomas O. Chisholm
C. Harold Lowden
1. Living for Jesus a life that is true,
striving to please him in all that I do,
yielding allegiance glad hearted and free
this is the pathway of blessing for me.
O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to you,
for you in your atonement did give yourself for me.
I own no other master my heart shall be your throne:
my life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for you alone.
2. Living for Jesus, who died in my place,
bearing on Calvary my sin and disgrace:
such love constrains me to answer his call,
follow his leading, and give him my all.
3. Living for Jesus wherever I am,
doing each duty in his holy name,
seeking the lost ones he died to redeem,
bringing the weary to find rest in him.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved