Just some simple thoughts on Proverbs 4.25-26 about how to orient your day to God. These verses , I believe show us how we might practice “righteous day mapping.”
“Keep your eyes straight ahead;
ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
leave evil in the dust.”
It speaks of focus and day-long concentration. Here’s an experiment for you to try for five days:
1. In the a.m., read Scripture.
2. Spend time in prayer.
3. Take out a piece of paper, and prayerfully map out your day…
a. Your to-do list
b. Your goals
c. List ministry items you could do, realistically, that day. (i.e., writing a thank you or encouragement note, sending someone an anonymous love offering who is in need, devoting your lunch to prayer for a situation or person, dealing with a tough relational issue by finally taking initiative and talking to that person in a spirit of love, etc.)
d. Offer yourself to the Lord to be a “gospeller” that day. Be ready and watchful throughout that day to bear witness to someone about how much Jesus means to you.
e. Jot down some ideas for future service to your family, other Christians, or your community
4. Commit your ideas/plans/goals to the Lord and head into your day.
As you do so, “keep your eyes straight ahead…”
- Take your paper with you and review once an hour…
- Mark off what the Lord enables you to accomplish, ranging from the simple to the significant.
- Make notes on your paper as you head through the day
- Before or after meal-times review your day in prayer and re-devote your focus to Him
“Ignore all sideshow distractions…”
Don’t deviate from your course. Many of us are not used to living disciplined lives, and this is only the beginning for you. At first it will seem “forced,” but after a few days of trial and prayerful effort, you will discover that your day seems freer, more focused, and more enjoyable than ever before. You will be able to make decisions easier as you avoid “sideshow distractions.” Your written guide in the a.m. will help you focus and prioritize your life for the Kingdom that day.
“Watch your step and the road will stretch out smooth before you…”
You will be delighted and surprised as you begin to discover that you were CREATED to live a disciplined and focused life. Over the next several days, you may find that you need your written guide less to refer to. Many of these pratices will begin to ingrain themselves into holy habits. It will become part of who you are, part of what you do. It will move from feeling legalistic to become liberating as you see “the road stretch out smooth before you.”
“Look neither to the left or the right…”
Yea, but what about distractions and interruptions? Obviously, they will come. Today! Life is not about living from a piece of paper. What you produce in the a.m. is only a guide. Yet, here is how to handle interruptions as they come:
- As you realize you’re “off course,” breathe a simple prayer to the Lord for wisdom and grace. On the fly, evaluate if what you’re currently doing is urgent, necessary, or critical. If it’s not urgent, postpone it.. make a note to include it tomorrow or later. If it’s critical, do it. If it’s necessary, pursue it with cautious wisdom.
- If your interruption or distraction is a person… prayerfully consider if it’s someone the Lord has sent your way to hear from or minister to.
- If it’s simply the result of you being unfocused, STOP what you’re doing. Pray. Pull out an index card with some scripture you’ve written on it previously to refresh your mind. Then redevote yourself to what you need to do.
What about kids, you may ask? So many of us are in this boat right now. Kids are a gift! The Lord said that heaven is open to the innocent. So should we be. But you will need to use creativity, grace, and patience to order righteously map your day AND be a parent.
Please don’t think you can’t do any of this. Just try it for five days. Don’t crush yourself with it. Just move a step or two in the direction of a disciplined life. You’ll be delighted to discover how much it agrees with you. You were created for Him!