Habits That Work: Windows to Grace

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Years ago, when my two boys (now 10 and 16) were babies, I felt constrained by household chores. The grinding cycle of tasks such as cooking, changing diapers, and cleaning up messes—when I wanted to be doing something more fun—frustrated me to no end. Nothing ever stayed done. Maybe that’s why I gravitated towards writing on my rare hours alone. In creating a piece of work, I could fashion something that remained the way I left it, at least until the next round of revisions.

I can’t say that I now adore housework, but my attitude has changed over the last decade as my faith has matured. After three days of work as a teacher at my son’s homeschool co-op, I relish the change of pace on Fridays when I do errands, dust, and fold laundry. There’s something soothing and meditative, even holy, about providing for my family in a different way.

Rethinking Daily Routines

Similarly, author and mom of four Kimberlee Conway Ireton notes that making dinner reminds her of what is eternal, taking her focus away from herself and her influence (or lack thereof). “I go to the kitchen,” she writes. “I peel an onion. I chop garlic. I make a meal for my family. It is such a small thing, a daily thing. It feels, often, like nothing. It is not nothing. It is the living sacrifice of my body on the altar of love. And every single day I get to make this sacrifice. I get to set aside what I want and instead attend to the needs of others, to feed them good food, prepared with my own two hands.”

Sometimes, however, we need to halt our work and rest. Regularly pausing to reflect and pray is as important as finding God in our everyday routines. As a homeschooling mother and entrepreneur, Kris Camealy finds it easy to overschedule her days, to the point of physical and mental exhaustion. She has learned to make the two hours after lunch “a holy pause.” She reads, journals, and communes with nature—and the Creator. In "Worship Break," she writes: “I’ve learned to love this time after lunch, when I can stop striving and simply be present. I come most days laden with questions and curiosities, and occasionally weighted by burdens that must be set down. Presenting myself to God helps me release my cares and expectations, and remain open to the Holy Spirit.”

How do we joyfully (and not drudgingly) plan these "holy pauses"? Gary Thomas is well-known for offering a grace-not-guilt approach to spiritual disciplines. He advocates fitting things we enjoy into our routines so that discipline becomes a by-product. In this video about devotional time, he explains, “Find a devotional style that fits you, experience the freedom to love God that way, and ride the power of delight right into God’s arms. Discipline is important, but I find that when I desire something, discipline takes care of itself.”

An Eternal Perspective

Maybe you find it easy to pause but difficult to take care of yourself. Tired of the excuses she kept making, April Yamasaki created a routine that worked for her in the form of an exercise DVD. “I'm learning that the habit of daily exercise works for me, both physically and spiritually. After all, we are body and spirit, so physical disciplines like fasting and working out are never purely physical. They also have a spiritual impact,” she says. After she purchased an indoor walking exercise DVD, she found that the daily routine of working out gave her energy, strength, and a spirit-lift.

When we view daily habits as opportunities for transformation, God works through and in us in startling ways. His redeeming work quietly and consistently hones our motives, changes our attitudes, and orders our days according to Kingdom priorities. Our routines then become windows of grace, through which we see him more clearly.

Small adjustments can reap big rewards. Blogger Tim Challies has a whole series of what he calls "Faith Hacks"—ways to creatively incorporate faith into daily life. He says, "As I read, as I listen to sermons, as I speak to people, I am always looking for insights on how other Christians live out their faith in practical ways. I recently shared an ultra-practical way to display servant leadership and then a way to organize prayer." (Read his "faith hack" about bedtime routines with kids.)

I like the way author and cross-cultural worker Gloria Furman puts it: “Look through this lens of eternity when you’re tempted to walk by sight. Watch how the grace of God transforms the way you see another business trip, another potty training accident, another afternoon in gridlock traffic, another meeting, another bill, or another load of laundry. Enduring joy can be had in the ordinary stuff of life today because everything you’ve been given was ordained by Jesus, exists for Jesus, and will testify forever in eternity as a tribute to His glorious grace.”

Now, it’s your turn. Let us know how you’ve allowed God to turn routines into spiritual disciplines.


Habits That Work

"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering" (Rom. 12:1, MSG).

There are habits designed to bring us closer to God—church-going, praying, reading the Bible, taking communion. But what about the habits of our everyday, ordinary lives? In addition to the traditional habits we naturally think of, can our sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around routines become the habits of spiritual discipline too? What are the habits in your life that serve to bring you closer to God? And how can we recognize the presence of God in the ordinary habits of living? Join us for Habits That Work. You might be surprised by what you discover as you consider how the habits of your daily life might also help bring you closer to God.

Featured image by liz west. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.