Hard to believe it's December already. I had high hopes for this year -- I really did. I wanted to start running consistently. (I've been out here and there, but mostly in the warm weather.) I wanted to go without sugar, wheat, red meats, and dairy for an entire year. (I only made it for three months.) I wanted to finish writing another book. (I barely scraped together a few chapters.) I wanted to study my Bible for at least an hour every morning. (There are still some days I don't study at all.)
The worst of all these things? I could have succeeded in doing those things. I wasted a lot of time on fruitless pursuits this year. I had no eternal perspective, whatsoever. And I made a lot of excuses.
Running: I had a million reasons to stop -- and happily accepted them all. Shin splints, foot problems, bad running shoes, no decent track to run on. Basically, it was hard. And I wanted out. Quickly.
The diet excuses weren't as obvious -- or as plentiful. But do you know how boring it is to eat only steamed vegetables and brown rice and oatmeal day after day after day? When my starved taste buds begged for the once-yucky taste of liquid chlorophyll, I knew things had gone too far.
Oh -- and I had another really good reason to end the diet: weekend company around the 3-month mark. I didn't want to make them feel uncomfortable at mealtime. (How thoughtful and self-sacrificing of me. I mean, really. Wouldn't you feel bad to be eating lasagna when your table-mate is eating almonds and spinach?) So, for their sake (naturally) I ate "people food" for four days and promised myself that when the visit ended, I'd get back on track.
Trust me when I say that after eating pepperoni pizza -- and salad with feta cheese and dried cranberries -- you don't want to eat plain brown rice with broccoli anymore. So, I didn't.
The writing problem. For some reason, it's been a struggle to even update my blog this year -- let alone work on another book. I realized the other day that I spend way more time reading about writing and studying the art of writing than actually writing. No, really. You know those writers who get in sloughs of unproductivity? The ones who read and read and read and then get discouraged because someone else already said it better (first)? Me. I'm one of them. Somehow morphed overnight (or so I'd like to think).
I want next year to be different. I want to stop being blown about by whims and excuses. I want to wake up every morning and ask the Lord to teach me to number my days so I can gain a heart of wisdom.
Do you know what that verse really means? (I think it just hit me in one of those vulnerable "Ah-ha, I-might-have-known-this-all-along-but-didn't-think-it-applied-to-me-yet-for-some-reason" moments.) "To number your days" means realizing the brevity of life -- the purpose of life -- and living like you believe it. Living because you believe it. When you apply your knowledge and abilities for God's ultimate glory, you gain a heart of wisdom.
It's that not-simple. Because, for one thing, it means no more excuses.
But, sitting here at the end of 2009, I realized how very much I need to pray those words every day of 2010. And maybe, if I can wrap my heart and head around it, with the Spirit's help, I won't chase after so many vain (and time-consuming) pursuits. I won't make excuses to avoid self-discipline. And I'll focus more on bringing glory to God and less on what I want or what I feel.
Being disciplined is rough. It's discouraging. Sometimes boring. Often painful. But we're called to run as if for the prize -- not run as if we'd take the first excuse to cower back into the sidelines. Our reward is in Heaven -- not on earth. So run like you believe it.