Somewhere, distractions crept in. A new job, a different schedule, one night missed here and there...and well, the habit died. Now, I am in the process of trying to make exercise a daily habit again. Distractions are the biggest killer of good habits, and we are in a fight to keep up good habits. I think that could be why Paul compares the Christian life to a race.
Therefore let us also, having so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, put away every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and run with endurance the race which is set before us.
Cultivating Christian habits are just like running a long term race. We have people all along the sidelines cheering us on (and if you are like me, you need a loud cheering section just to keep you motivated to keep moving). We have to throw off everything that could distract us and slow us down. We have to get rid of the things that trip us up, and hunker down and run the race.
The Christian life is not a sprint, but a marathon. We are called to be in the race for the long haul. We start off with a deliberate pace, and keep putting one foot in front of the other--step by step and stride by stride we run the course that God has laid out before us.
When we set out running, we are going to be hit with distractions. Satan does not want our focus on God and making Godly habits. He will throw obstacles in front of us just to get our minds sidetracked. If you are like me, once you are sidetracked, well it is all downhill from there. The habit that we worked so hard to make, has become something we seldom do--or if we do it, we do it half heartedly because of the discipline that we lost from not being consistent. I think that is why it is so important to stay focused--and why we need to stay immersed in Bible reading and applying it to our lives.
When we make that appointment to be with God reading His Word, we can daily seek his will and make sure we are focused on the goals and opportunities that lay before us. We have to constantly look at where we are and where we are going--all while enjoying the opportunity to spend time with God in a loving relationship.
Christian disciplines are not something that should feel like a chore, or something that you daily check off of your to do list. It is a relationship, and like every relationship, you have to discipline yourself to do the things necessary to deepen the relationship. Although it is work, you enjoy the time you invest in the relationship. That is the same way I see spending time in prayer and Bible Study. As long as you keep the focus on building the relationship and learning and applying Biblical truths to your life, you will look forward to the time you can spend doing them--even though it takes discipline.