Friday, September 21, 2007

A Milk And Honey Moment

The following is from "A Milk And Honey Moment," by my friend Sharon Norris Elliott. Sign up for the Milk and Honey Retreat. Make small payments now. Spoil your inner-self!

Force of habit. Do you ever use this phrase? I do from time to time. When I leave a room and turn the light off even if people are still in there, I don’t realize I’ve flicked the switch until they yell, “Hey!”

“Oh, sorry,” I say. “Force of habit.”

Or perhaps I throw my arm out to hold my adult friend back in the front seat of the car when I hit my brakes suddenly. She looks at me with wry amusement.

“Sorry,” I reply. “Force of habit.”

Many times we think of habits as negative things. People bite their fingernails when they’re nervous, smoke cigarettes to calm themselves, or eat a gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream when depressed or disappointed. Some people are habitually late, habitually cranky, or habitual over-spenders.

But habits can be good too. My husband formed a habit of saving over his lifetime and now that he’s facing retirement, he’s pretty glad about that. My friend, Jari habitually practiced great oral hygiene and now in her fifties, she still doesn’t have any cavities. Habitually write a little bit every day and you’ll finish that book. Habitually exercise and eat right and you’ll lose that weight.

Habits are formed by starting to do something and then repeating that same thing over and over again. In an effort to communicate this principle relating to study habits to the football players in my senior English class, I asked them, “Why do you practice every day? Haven’t you played together for several years now? Don’t you know the plays?”

They answered, “Yes, but we want to be really good.”

I said, “No, you practice every day so that those plays will become second nature to you. You’ll know when to shift right or left, go long, or anticipate the off-side kick without really thinking about it. You’ll react by force of habit and your moves will be so fast and accurate that the other team won’t have time to adjust. When you study a little bit every day, the information will be second nature to you too.” Hopefully, the gridiron example helps make a difference. We’ll see on the next test.

How are your spiritual habits? Are you habitually forgiving, habitually loving, and habitually long-suffering? Have you practiced using Christ’s words and actions so much so that they have become your words and actions by force of habit? You won’t get there unless you start – the championship South Bay Lutheran Wave football team – practicing every day.

Isaiah 58:2 says, “For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.” (NIV)

Pay attention to those Milk & Honey Life Moments when you have the opportunity to do the right thing. Start today and do it. Then, when the opportunity presents itself again, do it again. Form habits of righteousness. Soon others will pleasantly make note of the fact that you live differently, and just like turning off that light, you won’t even have noticed. All you’ll be able to say is, “Sorry, force of habit."

Sharon Norris Elliott

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