When you start a spiritual practice and get through that initial fight with Satan, it's all good. Even amazing. Whether it's newly disciplined Bible reading, or disciplined prayer, or disciplined giving, or regular hospitality....whatever, you feel triumphant. You've established a habit.
Let's face it, forming a habit that doesn't include chocolate or other obvious delight, like a lazy Sunday nap or a sunset beach walk, is hard. It can be so hard it hurts.
Are you praying daily? Congratulations!
Realize something now, though. You can never relax in your spiritual habit.
Oh, I know what you'll say. But the habit feels entrenched. This will last forever.
No. You're still on a slippery slope. Never let your guard down.
You can't say:
Well.....the thirty minutes of prayer will still happen tonight--it's part of who I am now--but right now, I really need to......
Before you know it, something else interferes (especially if you're a mom). Satan still whispers that you need this or that instead--maybe not as loud as when you first began your habit quest, but rest assured, he's still there, making ugly.
Why must you be so vigilant? It has to do with that beautiful, tragic gift called free will.
I've written before that I'm a Calvinist, basically believing that God chooses us. We don't have the capacity to choose him, as spiritually dead beings.(Feel free to disagree, as always.)
But what about after salvation is secure? Once we're chosen--saved and written in the Book of Life--do we have the capacity to choose God over ourselves?
Let's explore that.
Our salvation awakens our spirit and allows us to hear God. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us and he whispers guidance. He nudges us in the right direction. Our part? Yes, I'll go there. I'll do that. I'll say that. We still must apply ourselves....we still must exert our free will and say....Yes, I'll obey.
Obedience and free will don't act as a team. No surprise there, right? One is always vying for first place.
And yet, nothing good happens in our spiritual lives without the daily practice of dying to self. Obedience knows she must die to self. But free will? She's always looking for a party.
The Holy Spirit reigns in free will. If we let him, he'll channel free will to glorify God.
The problem is that, over time, with complacency, we grow less receptive to the Holy Spirit's nudges, making it harder for Him to affect heart change....making it harder for him to reign in free will.
Without the Holy Spirit we can do nothing. We are nothing. That's why we must keep our ears and our hearts tuned in. That's why it's so crucial that we develop, and keep vigilant about, a prayer and Bible reading habit.
So the answer to the question: Do we have the capacity to choose God over ourselves once we're saved?
Is yes.....if we're praying and reading the Bible habitually.
Pray for your yes. Pray about your spiritual habits...that the Holy Spirit will reign in your free will. Start your day with words such as these:
Our Father, help me to die to myself today. Help me to choose you all day. Help me to read and pray today, as planned. Increase my sensitivity to your Spirit.
Notice the as planned part of that prayer. Be intentional. Have a plan, even if it requires (at first) sticky notes in several rooms. For example, in the bathroom, pray for husband...reminded by a sticky note on the mirror. In the kitchen, pray for the kids.....reminded by a sticky note over the sink or the stove. This may sound crazy to those with two kids. But to moms of many (or moms of littles), it isn't crazy.
Crazy is the number of times they've fluffed their husband's work shirts, due to all the interruptions.
The number of kids you have, the number of years or months between them, and the age of the youngest, will determine how innovative you must be. Caring for a baby and a two year old at the same time is probably the most challenging. I've done it twice. My prayers are with you on that.
But don't wait on this. Sit down with your husband and brainstorm ways you can make prayer and Bible reading habitual. I could give you more specifics, but each family situation is too unique. I think your husband would be better at helping you come up with strategies. Plus, you'll need his help with the kids, probably, to make your spiritual practices habitual. Bring him into the equation now, because after all, he's your spiritual leader, not some mommy-blogger wannabe.
Your ability to choose Him daily...to hear Him...to obey Him, depends on it.