The Discipline of Relationship, Part 1

Anyone who enjoys a great marriage knows that a good relationship takes hard work.  It doesn’t just happen; there are talksome things that must be done to nurture it.  Let’s call those things… disciplines. If I am going to be a good communicator with my wife, I am going to have to learn what good communication looks like and I am going to have to practice it.  I may need to read a book on communication or go to a marriage seminar.  The point is that I don’t drift into good communication.  It is not natural for me to do so.  I have to practice it and that takes discipline.

Our relationship with God also takes discipline. That is what devotions are all about.  Devotions provide the practice necessary to nurture a relationship with the Lord.  Through devotions, I practice listening to his voice and responding to it.  I practice talking to him in prayer.  And I practice worshiping him.  These are not natural things to do, so I have to discipline myself to do them.

Devotions, however, are not the totality of the relationship with God.  They are only a means of nurturing that relationship.  I don’t wait until I go to a marriage seminar to communicate with my wife.  The seminar, however, will provide the discipline needed to be a better communicator with her all the time.  Likewise, devotions help me be in relationship with the Lord every moment of my life.

For years I went to a gym and practiced gymnastics for hours.  I wasn’t only a gymnast when I was in the gym.  I was a gymnast all the time.  Practice helped me become a better gymnast, but I ate, drank and slept gymnastics all my waking hours, and even in my dreams.  My mind was always rehearsing routines.  I was conscience of my every part of my body.  I was a gymnast outside of the gym.  Practice was the discipline I needed to become a gymnast, but it was not the totality of being a gymnast.

My point is that devotions are necessary to develop a relationship with the Lord – they are not the totality of that relationship.  It is not natural for us to have a great relationship with God.  We must nurture it through the discipline of devotions.

How is your relationship with God?  Are you getting to the “gym” regularly?

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