Of all of the disciplines in my life, there is one that is more stabilizing, fortifying and invigorating than all the others combined.
I have learned over the years the importance of eating in a healthy manner on a daily basis, of incorporating a moderate amount of exercise into my busy life and even of making my bed every morning. However, it is none of those disciplines to which I am referring as the pivotal and premiere one.
Discipline has never come naturally to me, nor has it been reflexive. I often give in to my fleeting feelings rather than allowing the knowledge of what is best for me to have the final say in my daily decisions. As the years have gone by, and I have realized the value of focused discipline, although it is still not easy for me, I humbly admit this truth: Discipline is worth the dying to self, the seeming inconvenience and the momentary discomfort. Discipline is worth it.
"On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." (1 Tim. 4:7b- 8, NASB).
In my faith walk, I have determined that "discipline" is a joyful word, not a word to be dreaded. The disciplines that are connected to my relationship with Christ, such as fasting, tithing and praying, are a direct avenue to joy and to abundant living. When these dynamic disciplines become an intricate part of one's life, they become a precious "want-to" not an abhorrent "have-to."
The one discipline in my life that bears the loveliest and most nutritious fruit has been my daily decision to read my Bible. I was raised in the home of a general of the faith, and often in the early morning hours, I would sneak downstairs to find my father at the kitchen table with his Bible open before him. As I settled my sleepy self beside him, he would write out a Scripture verse for me to read and memorize.
Every Saturday evening, my father wrote a new Bible verse on the blackboard in our kitchen that we talked about during dinner and made it our goal to commit it to memory that week.
My father was the godliest man I have ever known, and I believe that his life of integrity, peace and wisdom was cultivated by a daily commitment to spending time in the active Word of God. Although you have never heard my father's name mentioned with the giants of the faith, he was a man of enormous impact who left a sterling legacy.
I learned from his example to treasure the moments spent on the sacred pages of Scripture. My heart was turned toward godliness and faithfulness as I memorized verses through my childhood and teenage years. My father taught me to dig for gold in every book of the Bible, in every chapter and in every verse.
Now, as an adult, as I awake in the early morning of a new day, the first thing I reach for is my Bible. There are mornings when I can't wait to get out of bed in order to partake of eternity on the written page. There are other mornings when I wish I could stay in bed just a little longer, check the email that seems pressing or turn on the morning news first. However, I make a better choice as I snuggle into Scripture and solidify my friendship with the one who created me.
Of all of the disciplines in my life, there is one that is more stabilizing, fortifying and invigorating than all the others combined. This joyful and life-changing discipline is found in reading my Bible every day.
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. Carol has written 11 books, including Significant, StormProof and Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming.
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