By Troy Haagenson
We all have scars from wasted time—we just can’t see them. Only in our imagination can we guess what we have missed out on doing, accomplishing and becoming. For many years I could put “squandered” as a one-word entry in my biography. I was in a rut from lack of focus and meaningless routine. “The chains of habits are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be changed.” Samuel Johnson was talking to me.
I often wonder how bored our angels get as they watch us waste away in front of a screen; playing games; binging on Netflix; and draining the battery on our laptops. We have all found ourselves aimlessly wandering through recommended YouTube videos into the late hours of the night.
Whatever the diversion, one of the most common feelings when our head finally hits the pillow is dissatisfaction. Did I just spend three hours on nothingness? What did I learn from that time and why do I find myself dissatisfied with today’s experience only to repeat it again tomorrow?
I have watched and read many interviews with creatives in the film and art industry; change agents, architectural giants and entrepreneurs. They all seem to have one thing in common. They don’t give the time of day to needless distraction. But how do they do it?
What propels one person with an inner drive to accomplish great things while another person never gets past dreaming? At my former gym, there is a mural on the wall above a giant mirror. It shows a silhouette of a Michael Jordan dunk with this quote: “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”
The world’s great achievers all seem to have a common attraction to consistent routine. They get things done through the power of habit. We don’t like to classify life in such simple terms, but habits define who we are. They are the motors that move our lives from one destination to the next. Greek philosopher Aristotle has been credited with describing the connection this way: “Ninety-five percent of everything you do is the result of habit.”
We all want to live a life of significance. If we were to define our core purpose for being on this planet as Christians, it could be argued that we have one simple goal—oneness with God. This is what Jesus prayed for in that sublime chapter where we can hear a whole conversation within the Godhead. “That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:21
Oneness with God can blow down doors of discouragement and storm the gates of hell. It can uplift the broken hearted, launch us into a life of integrity and character transformation. It can vault us to the summit of influence like Daniel and possess the spaces God desires to place us. But these things can only happen if we focus on oneness with God.
It seems startling and unachievable for most of us to think that anyone could get as close to God as Moses. The Bible says, “There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.” Deut 34:10. To know God face to face is not something our loving Creator wanted for only one person, He wanted it for everybody. As surprising as it sounds, we have control of how close we want to get to God. He places no limits on our relational attachment to him. We determine how far we will travel up the road to knowing God. We determine how personal we want to get with Him.
Jesus loves to disclose Himself to us, but we only discover Him if we want it, wish it, and make it happen. Soul satisfaction is the result of those who do. King David put it beautifully, “You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psa 16:11
When we think of past Christians who had lives of significance, John Wesley may come to mind. His commitment to God and impact on kingdom growth are beyond calculation, but his habits of devotion that determined his success were learned from his mother Susanna. Jackie Green and Lauren Green-McAfee describe Wesley’s mother in their book Only One Life: How a Woman’s Every Day Shapes an Eternal Legacy. With a large family in tight quarters, she found her solace in pulling her apron over her head on her favorite chair and communing with God from within this “tent.” Her kids knew to leave her undisturbed for two hours a day. Her time there was spent in prayer and Bible study. Her influence on John Wesley and the world sprang from her right focus and right habits.
Throughout the ages, God’s people have come to love Him and connect with Him through devotional consistency. When we build a routine of substantive daily devotion, God builds His kingdom. Time spent with God develops our relational depth, and depth creates oneness and purpose that brings fulfillment. In moving forward, we can choose to retire the pattern of wasting time. No more dissatisfaction, just Jesus abiding within…by choice…through habits.