We are creatures of habit.
How do I know? Because I am currently sitting in Starbucks typing a blog post on my iPad. The exact same thing I was doing last Sunday, and the Sunday before that, and the Sunday before that. It appears, this is my routine. It is my Sunday ritual, to bring my green mug to the Bucks, grab a cup of coffee and think through life as I write the week’s post.
Curiously, this habit of mine has resulted in some pleasant side effects. I no longer walk into a coffee shop full of strangers. In fact, I know everyone that works here, most by name. A few of them are becoming good friends, and often I no longer have to order. They simply know my preference. It is familiar, comfortable, and I enjoy spending time here.
It would be safe to say I have a relationship with this Starbucks. It is one that continues to grow every time I come in here. My talks with people have moved past what I want them to give me and are about family, school and life.
It is a simple truth in life that relationships are built on the foundation of time spent. Every friendship, every relationship starts with an introduction. There is always a first conversation. Truthfully, these first conversations are usually shallow and distant. They tend to concern generalities, like the weather. However, if time is spent, then relationships grow. Roots begin to develop and the relationship buds into something better than before. Eventually, through much time spent, the relationship is no longer shallow at all. The roots are deep, and the two parties know each other well. It is these deep relationships that, despite the amount of effort, produce the most gain.
Now, considering we are indeed creatures of habit, it is exactly these deep relationships that we turn to first. The most familiar relationships are themselves a habit. They are the friends we call daily. They are the first people we think about when we receive news, either exciting or discouraging. It is their opinion we want when a decision is to be made.
If you are wondering where I am going with all this, here is my point: our relationship with God is no different.
Sitting in Starbucks today, this basic truth availed itself. I come here so much I have developed the habit of coming. Because of that habit, when I have time to kill, a book to read, or a blog post to write, this is often the first place I turn. This has resulted in a close relationship with the people and even the building, as odd as that may sound.
The spiritual disciplines can be likened to this habit. At first, the Bible is an unfamiliar book full of strange stories and lessons hard to understand. However, as we keep coming to the word of God with diligence, we find those stories become familiar and the lessons begin to make sense. Soon, it becomes the place we turn for advice, for comfort, and ultimately for our nourishment.
Prayer is no different. In the beginning, it is talking to the ceiling, or so we feel. It feels distant and often shallow, like talking about the weather. Yet, as we seek God’s face in prayer more and more, we understand it is not just talking to someone we cannot see. It is a conversation with the Most High God, the only one who really can do something about it, whatever it is. We speak to God, and he speaks to us. He listens and so should we.
When we come to God often, we develop a habit of coming to God. It is exactly this habit that stirs us on into ever-deeper relationship with our creator. In essence, it becomes self-perpetuating.
Of course, the most familiar relationships are habits. They are the ones we call on daily. They are the first people we think about when things happen, good or bad. It is, in fact, their opinion we want when a decision is to be made.