Welcome to this edition of Ezer Equipped. This month we are talking about the power of habits to shape you and the importance of establishing spiritual rhythms in our lives.
I was sitting in church a few Sundays ago during the time of reflection. The Holy Spirit was working in me—exposing and convicting me of my sin and unbelief. It was in the middle of a prayer of confession and repentance that I felt the familiar buzz of a text message announcing its arrival on my wrist. Even though I only briefly glanced at my wrist, the moment of communion with the Lord had been disrupted.
We live in an age of constant connectivity, distraction, diversion, and busyness. Whether it is the intrusion of digital connection in our lives or our pursuit of diversion to stave off boredom, restlessness, guilty consciences, or those dreaded moments of solitude and silence, we fill all the gaps—never having to come face to face with ourselves. Our constant connectivity and digital diversions are taking a toll on us. Studies show we are more anxious, more lonely, and more depressed. And spiritually, we sever our connection to the Lord—crowding out the solitude and silence in which intimate fellowship and communion often occur.
In John 15, Jesus told his disciples, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” To abide is to linger, to dwell, to remain. When we linger with a friend over a good cup of coffee, we are unhurried and undistracted, soaking up every moment of time with them. Intimacy flourishes in that context. Abiding in Christ may mean that we have to create some new habits in our lives—establishing limitations on things that serve to distract and entertain and embracing things like solitude, silence, and sabbath.
Our habits shape us. So this month, we want to challenge you to embrace some spiritual rhythms in your life. As with all of our newsletters, we have provided a few resources to read or listen to, some questions to reflect on and discuss with those in your community, and some believable next steps you can take to grow in this area.
Grace Church Women’s Discipleship Advisor
by: Justin Whitmel Early
Justin Whitmel Early learned the hard way that it is our unconscious habits, more than our beliefs, that shape our souls. His journey led him to establish new rhythms, new habits in his life that restored his mental, emotional, physical, relational and spiritual health. Early says that, “We equate freedom with the absence of any limitations. But the biblical definition of freedom is actually the presence of the right limitations.” This book is short and easy to read, but the truth he holds out is potentially life changing if we are willing to implement it in our own lives.
“No one can sleep while believing that she needs to keep the world spinning. But real rest comes when we thank God that we don’t need to, because he does. Thus we kneel by the bed and place the period of God’s mercy and care for us at the end of the day.”
by: J.D. Greear
This short article exposes our idol of busyness and provides four ways to combat the soul-depleting busyness of life.
“Busyness isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s dangerous. There are few things as damaging—and potentially soul-destroying, as busyness. As Blaise Pascal once noted, busyness sends more people to hell than unbelief.”
by: Justin Whitmel Early
In this brief, ten-minute video Early shares a piece of his story and introduces how The Common Rule originated.
“My heart and body finally became converted to the anxiety and busyness that my habits and routines worshiped.”
We encourage you to use these conversation starters as a means of self-reflection and for discussion within your community.
- How we spend our time can indicate what we value. If you were to evaluate how you fill your free time, what would it say you value?
- Name some habits you have that may give you “rest” or escape but are not “restorative”?
- What are some habits that consume your time, energy, and attention? What gets neglected as a result of these habits?
- Where does time with God, time for quiet and worship, fit into your current life? What are the implications? Are there any new spiritual habits that you need to embrace? How might establishing these rhythms impact your fellowship with God? With others?
- What are some habits that you need to limit in order to make space for true fellowship and communion with God and others? How might establishing these limits impact the connection you feel toward God and others?
Scripture warns us to not just be hearers of the Word but to be doers of it as well. All of life is repentance. What is a believable next step God is calling you to take in response to all you’ve learned?
1. The next time you are in the car alone, don’t listen to any music or talk on the phone. See where your thoughts take you. Usually, those are the things that weigh on us that we can offer to God and ask for his wisdom and grace. Instead of filling the time, use the time to talk to God.
2. Choose one of the limits below to practice this week. Then share with a friend which one you chose. Discuss it with her at the end of the week. What did you learn? How did establishing this limit impact your day? Your week? Your relationships with God and others?
3. One hour with phone off each day
- Choose something to fast from for one day or one week
- Set a time limit for social media or television
- Don’t check email past a certain time
- No phones at mealtime
4. Choose one of the rhythms below to embrace this week. Then share with a friend which one you chose. Discuss it with her at the end of the week. How did embracing this new habit impact your day? Your week? Your relationships with God and others?
- Prayer before phone
- One meal a day with another person
- 15 minutes of silence and solitude per day
- Go for a walk without music or your phone
This resource is adapted from our Ezer Equipped monthly newsletter dedicated to equipping our women with content, from both within and outside of our church, to help us continue to grow as disciple and disciple-makers. To subscribe to the Ezer Equipped newsletter, click here.