The opposite of how I said I was going to start this blog and never did. The problem with consistency is that most of us aren’t and those that are, are basically mythical creatures who are just really good at following a schedule and live in a world with no distractions or strongholds. I guess what I really believe is that said mythical creatures have finally found that deep need for rightness, for following through, and for being good to others. It is truly considering others more precious than yourself and wonderfully satisfying.
I have always been inconsistent. Maybe it actually started after I finished high school and got married. Zack and I actually talked about how in our first home nothing ever got done. Ever. We were always working, playing, churching, serving, and going until we were ragged and when we stopped we sat in our home with the curtains closed (because I never opened them) and got lost in television. Don’t get me wrong there were tiny beginning forms of consistency. Like when we held a bible study in that incredibly chaotic home that was swiftly cleaned before each meeting. This form of consistency was one of the most precious times in our life. We had six of our most fiercely loved friends in our home once a week. We all made food with our own hands and hearts and ate together like family. All eight of us, smashed around our table loving each other through food and laughter and love. We would then move into our little living room and open the bible. Sometimes we stayed up until 2am studying and sharing stories. The thing about consistency is that it doesn’t mean that things will never change. Consistency in some rights is for a season, it is a commitment of sorts. It showed part of it’s great purpose one dreadful night when I lost our first precious baby to miscarriage. The first people by our side apart from family were those precious six. They cared, loved, fed, and held us up. Even after our gatherings ended the fruitful kindred that had developed remained as we gathered around one of our sweet members when she lost her husband, our brother. So yes, consistency is seasonal in some respects and in others it is not.
This is where it is not seasonal. Also, this is a confession for me. I know it is not easy to tell our stories of failure but it is so deeply needed. “Therefore, confess our sins to one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16). In high school, I was fairly consistent with my time in the word. It wasn’t hard. I had a daily routine, guidance from parents, a youth group that I spent all of my life doing life with and so I was good at remembering. Then, I graduated and it was like some mean bully came and yanked my crutches away. I began my long stretch of stumbling, bumping, and falling. I would have a few good weeks of getting in the word and then would go months without speaking to God. I have been so convicted of this and have realized that I can not be sustained by this world. I have started a journey towards consistency in the word and it has not been easy but who really wants easy when you can’t also have meaningful? I can say that as of today, for six straight months, by the grace of God, I have been in the word and in prayer. I have missed a few days and when I do my soul longs for nourishment. Side note: You guys, if you have kids, they will make it their mission to ruin your attempts at quiet times. Make it your mission to figure it out. If you are currently not in the word or struggling with consistency, you are malnourished. You are also more than likely in sin. One Sunday, at our old church our precious associate pastor talked about the sin of prayerlessness. I gulped and started to sweat. That’s me I thought and I began to fill with conviction up to my throat. Dear brother or sister, if you feel that heavy conviction because you lack commitment to God. Good. Do something about it. Find what works for you. Let go of other things and focus on Christ. He is your all in all and if you are ignoring Him when he gives you ample resources to engage him then you are in a sad state, just like I found myself. You know the good thing that I’ve been learning about the fellowship of believers is that we can lament together in confessing our sin, we can rejoice in our successes and we can both say, “I’ve been there.” We can both turn from it and we can walk together. This area of consistency is by far the most important. If you get this right, right not perfect, then you will undoubtedly see other areas of your life become more consistent.
Consistency through difficult and painful situations is so beneficial to any person but especially the Christian. I say this because when you’ve passed through your pain with consistency, your faith has been strengthened. I have a lot of stories that include heaps of pain, weakness, doubt, fear, and basically just the worst. We’ve been through a lot of painful situations but I’ll choose a more light hearted one for this story. My favorite hurdle that I’ve jumped lately is the birth of Eli. Before the epidural queens jump my case about having something to prove, calm it! I don’t have anything to prove by choosing a natural birth. I chose it for several reasons personal to my first birth experience. The first time around I wanted a natural birth but I was not consistent in studying, choosing my doctors or preparing. I had conviction but no follow through. You know, the same way one approaches a plate of brownies. The conviction to just eat one or none, but suddenly you have a plate of crumbs. You too, right? Anyway, I ended up with an incredibly long labor, 4 epidural tries, and a spinal headache that laid me flat for days, which caused breastfeeding issues and a whole load of other complications. When you can’t stand or sit up and hold your brand new baby after you’ve held him with every fiber of the inside of your body for nine months it changes your need for comfort during labor. It just does. So second time, needless to say, you wouldn’t find me near an epidural, actually not in the same building as an epidural. I’d rather be in labor for five days than go that route again. This time, when I got pregnant with Eli, I studied, I prepared, I practiced, I had forty-two verses scratched out on notecards, I chose a birthing center close to the hospital, and I had the most amazing birth (I’ll share that story later for those that get a kick out of that sort of thing.) I was consistent with my conviction. In one of the books I read, the author said this, “Did you mean that you wanted a natural birth as long as it wasn’t too difficult? As long as you had a relatively easy labor and contractions never got too overwhelming? Or did you mean you wanted to scrape the bottom of your soul for the last remaining shards of determination?” (Cynthia Gabriel in her book Natural Hospital Birth). This applies to other areas of life. I just love that quote and it reminded me shortly before Eli’s birth that I did want to scrape the bottom of my soul for this because I had conviction for it and I wanted to follow through. Did I have something to prove? No. Did I feel like a freaking super hero afterwards. Yes. Especially, when the midwife gasped and weighed him in a 9lbs 9.5oz. In my mind I thought, no wonder I felt like I had been a part of one of those magic tricks where they saw the lady in half. Eli’s birth is an inspiration to me continually about the payoff of commitment and consistency. I think about it often with excitement because I know I can follow through on something hard because of the promises of scripture. I can’t think for one second that God did not equip me for follow through when he formed me.
Dear reader, If you know Christ, then you are walking around with the same power in you that raised Christ from the dead. Let’s go do something about it. Let’s stop waisting our time on, fill in the blank, and do something that because of Christ we are capable of committing too and in some cases completing. I know that the loss of consistency in our present culture is some nasty ploy to render everyone ineffective. Let’s not take that. We don’t have too. Your failures and successes might look different than mine but your kindred people can walk with you through them. We can rely on our God and our people to be consistent. Think about consistency like covenant consistency. We can be consistent because our God is completely and perfectly consistent through his covenant and He gave us the Spirit as helper. I am not winning it over here on consistency. As a matter of fact, I only have a few areas of consistency that I am squeezing in the palms of my hands at this very moment. This is not a plea to keep up with the spiritual Joneses. This is a plea to not waste our time and to figure out where our lack of perseverance in Christ is sin. I’ll leave you with one last little inspiration to get you motivated to commit to what God has created you to do. I read this from John Piper’s book “Think” recently and although it is about thinking and reading, the concept applies. We shouldn’t look at consistency as unattainable. Consistency in a few areas is always better than none. “It is certainly better to gather a few crumbs which have dropped from the table than to starve in futile adoration of the feast we cannot reach. (p. 61)” (Excerpt From: Piper, John. “Think.” Crossway, 2010. iBooks.)
Praying that this little blurb of stories reaches well, impacts deeply, and possibly motivates change.
As my beautiful Grandma always says and I love to repeat,