Dawn Tolbert

#366Days Faith Reflections

Better Late than Never #366Days Day 35

Tree in fog

I’ve been aiming to have my blog posts live before 7 a.m. each day. Some of them I have written the night before and scheduled for an early morning posting; others have been the creation of my early morning mind. Today, though, I missed my made-up deadline a little — like by a little over 12 hours (and that’s assuming I can write this quickly!). You know what? It’s okay. The world has kept spinning. The sun is still shining…somewhere. And it is perfectly acceptable that I’ve spent some quality time with my favorite blankets and my DVR; the rainy day practically calls for that kind of activity.

Realizing that not meeting my self-imposed schedule is okay reminded me of an important lesson I learned about myself last Sunday morning in church: Sometimes I just try to make things too hard. Our pastor was encouraging everyone to read their bibles through this year, recommending it as an important way to practice spiritual discipline and to grow in our faith. In 2015 I did actually finish reading my bible through in a year so I was sure I knew the answer when he asked what you’re supposed to do when you miss a day. My mind brought up images of my end-of-year marathon session to catch up from a missed day here, the late night there, the days of sickness. “You work hard to catch up,” I thought to myself as the pastor answered his own question by saying, “Just pick up the next day. We’d never be able to make up for all we’d missed anyway.”

I wonder if anyone in the congregation could see my dog-inspired head tilt; I’ve often wished I could cock my ears like dogs do to truly indicate my surprise. But as soon as he said the words, I knew he was right. Marathon sessions turn the bible reading into a checklist of chapters and verses rather than meaningful time spent with the One who wrote the Book. It’s okay if it takes a year, or a year and a few days, or even a couple of years. The point is the relationship not the readership.

As a goal-oriented person, I can be very hard on myself. There’s a good side to it; that kind of defining of objectives helps me know where I want to go and what I need to do to get there. But there’s a dark side, too, that is easily manipulated by Satan. One false step, one missed chapter, one slip and that voice inside my head comes out. It tells me I’m not good enough, that I never follow through, that I always let myself down. I’m reading Job now (in my 2016 plan for reading the bible in chronological order), and I’m fascinated by the scene of Satan appearing before God. The Bible tells us he’s there accusing us constantly; I picture him telling God that I’m not good enough, that I never follow through, that I always let Him down. Sounds a lot like that voice in my head, right?

In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief (speaking of Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The version I learned it in as a child, the King James of course, says “that they might have it more abundantly.” I make things hard on myself, but in Matthew 11:30, Jesus tells us “…my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” That verse is part of Jesus’ offer of rest to those who are burdened and heavy laden. I just need to rest in His promise.

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