Constant. Reliable. Even. Steady. Stable. Consistent.

I want to be these things.

My personality naturally lends itself to spontaneity, often bucking routine or structure in favor of being free to do things spur-of-the-moment. I tend to want to do things when I feel like doing them, rather than just doing them because I know I need to get them done. I want to do things as I feel inspired because then they somehow seem more authentic and…free.

Part of my growing up has been balancing this desire for inspiration and freedom with consistency, structure and routine. The funny thing is that even though I don’t naturally lean towards structure, I actually love it. I like it when people tell me what to do or when I have a commitment I can’t get out of. In a weird way, consistency and discipline actually leads to freedom.

In high school I had to be at swim practice for two hours a day and couldn’t get out of it. It forced me to work out, be healthy and *gasp* get better. I became a better swimmer because I was in a routine of practicing it daily.

But as I quickly learned when I entered adult life, if something is important to me, I may just have to make it happen. No one will be handing me a structured life. If I want to be physically fit and not wheeze at the top of a flight of stairs, I should probably work out. If I want to feel more comfortable playing the piano, I should probably play it a few times a week. I might want to practice. I might want to be consistent.

Oh, what a lesson! I feel this is something God and I will be talking about for many years. I hear myself say, “I want…” and “Wouldn’t it be neat if I…” and I hear Him whisper back, “So do it.” He calls me to discipline, to consistency and structure. And who would have thought, in that structure there is freedom.

Last year, I had this book on my shelf that I wanted to read and it is quite long. I would look at it and think, “I’m going to read that, I really am.” But I kept putting it off because I’m in grad school and, come on, reading long non-fiction books for fun just doesn’t happen.

Then it was May, I was free, and I again saw the book on the shelf, eagerly looking back at me, longing to be taken down and opened. I heard a voice say, “So do it.” I took a deep breath, took the book off the shelf and made small daily goals to get the book read before flying off on my summer adventure.

It seemed odd to regiment this activity that I love precisely because it is unstructured, but I actually enjoyed it. I finished the book and loved it. I learned a lot. At the end, I smiled and said, “There. I did it.” I couldn’t believe I actually made a goal and stuck to it. The process wasn’t perfect and it took me a little longer than I planned, but I was able to finish something I started.

I saw the enjoyment in consistency and realized that discipline is real and good.

It also reminded me that self-control and discipline comes when we want something enough to lay aside other things for it. When we set our hope on a prize, such as finishing a 600 page non-fiction book, we will make it a priority.

When I fix my eyes on Jesus, my prize and joy, and set my mind on things above, I will make Him a priority. By knowing Him,sharing Him with others and not letting anything get in the way of that will make me a disciplined person. I will want to be in the Word daily and mediate on the Truth. I may say no to things – or even yes – because of Him.

Constant. Reliable. Even. Steady. Stable. Consistent.

That’s who Jesus is. And when I look at Him – by His grace – I can become those things too.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. (Hebrews 12:2-3)

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