A couple days back, the two boys were building a Lego Batman-mobile with Justin. It was a fun endeavor, and all three of them were focused on their work, intent on completing the project.
At one point, 4-year-old Joshua was attempting to snap one of the Lego wheels into place and, try as he might, he couldn’t get the wheel to clasp onto the necessary adjoining piece. In a burst of passion, he put the wheel down, dropped to the floor, and knocked out ten push-ups. (Have you ever seen a 4-year-old do push-ups? It’s clumsy, awkward, and wholly lacking in proper form or technique. There’s usually very little arm-bending, lots of hip/belly-dropping, and wild, dramatic grunting. It’s delightful.) Josh completed the ten, jumped back to his feet and, with an optimistic grin, declared to his Dad and brother, “There! I just did ten push-ups! Now I’ll be strong enough to get that wheel on!”
You can imagine how this story unfolds. Josh grabbed the two Lego pieces and, despite brimming optimism, determined effort, and new found strength, wasn’t a bit closer to getting that wheel into place than ten push-ups earlier.
As adults, we know this. Of course we do. We don’t lose weight through a single day of dieting any more than we get stronger by working out once.
Strength comes with consistency and repetition, and it’s only when we change our habits that there will actually be growth.
We know this, and yet..
Children are often walking, talking, fresh illustrations for their adults, aren't they?
So often, though I genuinely desire to grow in grace and in spiritual strength, I resemble my 4-year-old boy—dropping to the floor to do push-ups, thinking that when I hop back on my feet, I’ll somehow be stronger.
Real growth—deep rooted growth—comes not through sporadic fits and starts of zeal, but rather when we diligently, daily, consistently are renewed through the Word and in prayer. There are some helpful qualifications: there are seasons of life when consistency is legitimately difficult; the dangers of legalism and communing with God simply out of duty are real dangers; grace covers beautifully when we fail. But once every qualification is made and once every exception is noted, the pattern for the Christian life couldn't have been made more clear in God's word: spiritual health and deepening faith comes through regular, habitual, disciplined, faithful, consistent, joyful communion with God through His word and through prayer.
Habits lead to growth.
Strength comes with repetition.
Daily discipline is far healthier than sporadic, passionate bursts.
And we strive for all this joyfully because our God is a good, loving Father. When we believe that this is a drudgery we've believed a lie. As His children, we want this. We want to grow closer to Him, to look more like His Son, to be fruitful, to be faithful--because we want Him.