Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"Do What You Did At First"

Reviving one's first love, zeal, or even organization may require the same correctives 

I've always needed structures in my life to help me do certain things well. Part of that has been structure in my schedule, and I've used various tools to help me do that well. For a number of years I used a written "diary" of my days, not to recount them but to order them. From the old "Five Star" Diary to a Day Timer for years, and then eventually to the Franklin Covey Day Planner, I had a calendar, notes, and daily "to do" lists, along with a tool to visibly remind me every day to do certain things. Then came technology, and I was given a Palm Pilot. Anybody remember back that far? It was small, it was clever, and the stylus was fun (if you didn't keep losing it). From there it was on to Microsoft Outlook's calendar, which was great on my computer, but in the pre-tablet and smartphone days still meant carrying something written. Then came those two other devices, along with cross platform calendars like Google. I've learned how to use them all, and do. My diary was put away, and I've now got an Outlook calendar, a couple different Google calendars, and I've also found a few programs with reminders.

I was thinking about all this recently, in terms of how I feel about my productivity, and I came to a startling conclusion. I'm less organized than I used to be. Oh, I still make and (usually) keep appointments. I have lots of addresses stored in my phone. And that same phone dings and vibrates at all sorts of times during the day. I've linked my calendars and can access them on various devices. But where are the regular times of sitting down with my calendar/diary and looking at what is going on and asking "what's really important here?" Where are the intentional reminders to build things like scripture memory into my day and week? Oh, I know that I can put it in a program, but I don't see it until it dings! 

This is not a rant about technology--some of you are doing all these things so well. It's a confession about me. Somewhere along the way, my shifting to new ways of doing things has cost me some hard earned ground in becoming a more organized (and I think in some cases) better follower of Jesus. 

So, I got my diary out again. I am transferring (by means of pen, not USB cable) my calendars, notes, etc. to it. I'm recreating my list of roles to fulfill and goals I want to fulfill. You see, I've discovered that some things I didn't want to slip have done so, and the best way I can find to deal with that is to go back to what I know helped me gain that ground in the first place. 

That is a biblical principle, by the way. When Ephesian Christians had lots of good going on in their church, there were some important things--especially one--that had been left behind in all sorts of progress they had made. They had left their "first love" behind. It's the love, the zeal, the passion for Christ and his people that had once been present, and until Jesus stopped them in their tracks and pointed it out, they hadn't realized it. Yet, in my mind, I wonder if there had been indicators in their lives, or longings for some of the joys of days gone by. The answer was to "repent"--change their mind and their direction--and do the things that they used to do at first. Maybe it was to sing together more, or memorize God's word together, or more regular times of prayer alone and together--I don't know. Maybe someone would mention an event from ten years ago and it would make someone feel a pang that "things aren't like that anymore." Perhaps the solution was to remember the things they were doing when that love was so strong and seek to walk in those familiar ways once again--not because they are old, but because they were good.

Is there anything about your life right now that might have you saying, "What happened to the progress I'd made?" If there is, perhaps a return to the things that helped you make that progress might be a good start toward gaining back that ground. If you ask me, I'll pray for you and with you about that. I'll write it in my diary.