Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
July 31, 2016
Good habits help us get the most out of life
Good habits deliver meaning and joy to our lives. Bad habits destroy us. As I look back on my life I am thankful for the people who taught me the value of maintaining good habits.
Author and evangelist E. Stanley Jones was 76 when I met him. I was 26. I was immediately impressed with his daily schedule and personal discipline. During a five-day retreat Jones insisted on going to bed by ten o’clock each night. As the time neared ten each evening Jones would quietly excuse himself and retire to his room. He claimed that his routine was one of the secrets of his good health.
“I rise every morning at 5 o’clock,” he said. “After dressing I spend time in prayer.” He called this quiet time his “Listening Post,” an hour spent listening to God speak to him. He was intentional, he said, about listening to God rather than
“telling” God his needs.
But Jones learned the value of being flexible. His travel schedule was sometimes interrupted. One night, because his plane was hours late arriving at his destination, he got to bed at 2 a.m. Determined to follow his daily discipline, he rose at 5 a.m., dressed and began “listening” to God. With a twinkle in his eye, Brother Stanley said he heard God say to him, “Go back to bed, Stanley; you need more rest.” So, obediently, he went back to bed!
This incident prompted Jones to realize the importance of being fixed in a few things but flexible in most. He explained it this way: “I am fixed in Jesus but flexible in other things.” I saw in this a valuable principle for living. Being flexible rather than rigid in most things helps us get the most out of life.
I have found that life works better when I follow the same daily routine. Morning is my best time so I enjoy rising early. As soon as I am awake I try to remember to give thanks to God that I am alive for life is a precious gift.
After indulging my desire for coffee I turn to my own version of the “Listening Post.” I see the morning as a time to ask for my marching orders. What does the Lord want me to do? Where does he want me to go? Who are the persons he wants me to care about today? I look to the Bible for answers to the question: What are you teaching me today? I want to become fully aware of his presence and open to his direction for my life.
Each morning my soul is stirred by remembering that God’s mercies are “fresh every morning,” I am constantly in need of God’s mercy and am so thankful that his mercy is constantly available. It does my soul good to remember that God loves me in spite of my sins and his plans for me are good. This is an important truth to embrace in a world of unbelievable evil that manifests itself in violence, hatred, suffering and murder.
If you are reading this as the morning light is breaking, give thanks for the gift of a new day. Thank God for the good habits he has given you the grace to develop. Ask for grace to overcome your bad habits. Listen to God. Listen long enough for him to tell you how much he loves you and how he wants to make you a blessing to someone today.
Strengthen your good habits. They help you make the most of life. Remind yourself that because you are fixed in Jesus, you have the freedom to be flexible as you relate to others and deal with the challenges of your life.
Perhaps the best of all good habits is to spend time every day listening to the God who created you, loves you and wants to help you get the most out of this life so that you are well prepared for the next life. + + +