Me and Dawn (front)
As I've matured in my faith life, I've found that the most valuable tools for keeping me on track are 1) Surrounding myself with other Christians, 2) Daily Scripture reading and reflection, 3) Spending time in prayer - both talking and listening, 4) Daily renewing my commitment to "walk the walk", putting my faith into action, and 5) Keeping my eye on the Prize - an inconceivably amazing Eternity.
I've been using Weight Watchers online since February, and am struck by the similarities between their instruction for achieving and maintaining a healthy body - and that which I have found above to be so critical for a healthy spirit. This is how Weight Watchers sums up their method for "Staying Motivated for the Long Term":
Surround yourself with like-minded people,
continue to adopt small healthy lifestyle changes
and use your interactive tools every day.
Also set mini-goals to help keep your eye on the prize
when the newness of the plan is replaced by familiarity.
Tonight, I am reflecting on the first point, "Surround yourself with like-minded people". God has richly blessed me with wonderful like-minded people - gals who desire to please Him, serve Him, and reflect Him.
Please don't misunderstand me - I don't surround myself ONLY with like-minded people (I want the opportunity to shine His light into dark lives, too), but I am unmistakably surrounded by amazing God-fearing folks who lift me up, support me, love me, correct me, encourage me, spur me on. I am so thankful!!! God is so good to not leave me all alone in the pursuit of the Prize. How wise and loving is He?!
Several summers ago (four?), I joined several of my dearest sisters in Christ for a Bible study on "Friendship". During that period of study, I was simultaneously reading the book of Hebrews. I distinctly remember coming across this passage:
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
-Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV) (Italicized emphasis my own.)
These verses leapt off the pages and into my heart and my head - particularly the part about not giving up meeting together. In this crazy busy culture I live in, it is all too easy to let commitments slide onto my plate - and then off again. Way too often, friends are the first to slip off my commitments list, but Hebrews reminds me that my Christian sisters are WAY too important to let drift out of my life. I need them to spur me on toward love and good deeds, to encourage me - and I, likewise, need too spur on and encourage them. God intends for us to be in relationship with Him, with one another, and with Him in one another.
I am eagerly looking forward to tomorrow morning when I will meet with many of the same women that I shared the "Friendship" study with four years ago. We keep in touch during the school year, some of us seeing one another more than others, but come summer, we clear 2 hours a week to spend with one another in prayer, fellowship, and study. This summer, my sisters and I will be studying the Proverbs 31 woman, a rather impossibly perfect gal who intimidates me somewhat, but hey - God has not given me a spirit of fear, so I will face her and maybe, just maybe, I'll become a little bit more like her. That is what the book title suggests anyway, "Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be" by Donna Partow. The study is more involved and challenging than studies we've done in the past, but that simply suggests to me that I'll have more opportunities to spur and be spurred!!!