“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
–Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
Have you ever been on a self-improvement kick? You know what I mean. You make a firm promise to yourself, or perhaps you make a New Year’s resolution. You decide you’ll start to diet, or do your best to get that new job. You want to prove that you can do this, so you attend webinars, listen to podcasts, and/or read up on the latest improvement techniques.
But over time, your resolve weakens. That extra piece of pie looks so good that you just can’t resist. Maybe you’re just plain tired of studying, so you eventually return to your old ways once more.
I have found that these self-improvement promises are much like dishes or dreams. They may look really nice at first, but they can be very easily broken at a moment’s notice.
The problem is that I gave up on the whole idea of setting goals, and I didn’t ask God for the strength to follow through. Then, a few years ago, I began to take inventory, and I found that I was overweight and underpaid. But instead of trying to do things on my own, I began to ask God for His help.
On top of this, I have found that rereading J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic children’s book, The Hobbit, has given me a fresh perspective on life. Promises and goals may either be composed of habits, or created in an attempt to break bad habits.
Now you may be asking what on earth Hobbits and habits have in common. Well, I don’t blame you for wanting to know, so I’ll do my best to explain.
First of all, they are both very small. As you read this classic book, you’ll learn that Hobbits can also be rather annoying, and the same can be said for some of our habits. While there are some habits that we want to reinforce, we’ll begin by talking about habits that we want to break.
Before we start, here’s some advice: Don’t try to list all of your bad habits in one sitting. If you’re like most of us, you may run out of memory. Or to put it another way, you might feel overwhelmed and give up before you’ve begun. After you’ve made a list of these undesirable habits, pick out the one that is the most troublesome to you, and tell God all about your struggles with this recurring problem.
Right about now, I can hear you saying in exasperation, “I’ve already done that! Now what?” If that is the case, my friend, remember this: We are in a spiritual war against the enemy of our souls, who would like to render you ineffective and useless by paralyzing you.
I encourage you to write this bad-habit list again and again. The enemy will stop at nothing, using feelings of hopelessness, doubt, fear, condemnation and confusion to try and stop you in your tracks. So you must stand firm against him in the power which Christ has provided by using scripture. If you remember, Jesus Christ defeated the enemy by quoting scripture in the wilderness, and knowledge of God’s Word will help you as well. I encourage you to use Google, a Bible app, or a trusty hard copy of the Bible to find out what His Word has to say on the subject you are dealing with today.
While The Hobbit may offer insights, God’s Word offers changes. That is why we can thank Him that He is in control, and we are not.
God says that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, so meditate on verses which speak of His strength and power. Think of how much larger God is than that giant-size roadblock you’re facing, and suit up by putting on the full armor of God. In other words, instead of constantly trying to escape into your Hobbit-hole or comfort zone, learn to face the adventures ahead of you. Let God’s Word overshadow and protect you, just as you would use an umbrella during a storm.
But don’t leave things there, for many times we compartmentalize God. Instead of putting Him in a box like a precious piece of jewelry, take Him with you throughout your days by taking these positive and reinforcing scriptures with you. While keeping them in your heart, chew on them in your mind, in the same way you would chew on a stick of gum to extract every bit of its flavor. Then, work on letting anxiety and fear drive you closer to Christ by repeating these scripture verses to yourself whenever tough or scary times knock at the door. Give God a permanent place of refuge in your heart. While the storms of life may intensify, so will His presence.
Lastly, do something enjoyable each time you reach a milestone with God. This might be as simple as going out for a cup of coffee, or reading a good book. Maybe, just maybe, that good book will be The Hobbit!
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870. Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Monday night Bible study or Tuesday night prayer meeting. Both are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-775-7031, and our ID is 607518748. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.