—Taylor Stichler, September 24, 2021 I recently joined a gym. I know, pretty scary thought. Me on an elliptical is not something I really want to picture, so I apologize for even bringing it up! I joined this gym because it is only ten dollars a month and I would at least like to attempt living a more active lifestyle. However, I’ve learned that paying for the gym membership is only part of the process. You have to actually go to the gym to reap any of the rewards! Who would have thought? It gets pretty easy to come up with excuses to not go. Excuses start off pretty legitimate: “I have too many things going on in my day,” “I really want to spend some time at home with my family,” or “I’m feeling a little under the weather so I better not go.” Eventually my excuses start to become outright ridiculous: “I think I walked enough at work today,” “I ate a cookie today so now my whole day is off,” or (my personal favorite) “I’ll just go tomorrow.” When I continue to make excuses, not only am I wasting my money, I’m not meeting my goal of why I even joined the gym in the first place!
On the first day of our Red Letter Challenge we talked about “being”—being with Christ. When we spend time with Christ in His Word and worship, we not only grow in our relationship with Him, we also receive His true forgiveness through His Word and His Sacraments. In our 8th Grade Confirmation class last week we discussed the First Commandment. “You shall have no other gods before me.” We talked about how many things there are in our lives that take our attention off of God. School, work, sports, money, friends, family, material things, and so much more do such a great job of taking our focus off of our Creator. Some of these things aren’t even bad things, but when we put God on the back burner we create a pretty big problem for ourselves.
During these next five weeks it might be easy to put this whole Red Letter Challenge on the back burner. There will be plenty of excuses or things that we might give priority. There have been many Bible reading plans and devotionals that I’ve tried, but end up coming up with a plethora of excuses to just skip one day. One day becomes two, two becomes three, and eventually I’ve given up altogether. It might be easy to put being with God on the back burner. Sleep might become more important than getting up for church; the busyness of school or work might become more important than spending time in God’s Word.
My challenge for myself and for everyone is this: Through the remainder of the Red Letter Challenge, read your Red Letter Challenge book every day. Spend some time with your family talking about what you’ve learned in your daily reading and spend a little more time reading God’s word together. Finally, worship! Spend time with your church family and come and receive the gifts that God gives us in worship.
Kinda like going to the gym, we live in a world where things are constantly giving us excuses to not be with God. Let’s try to not give into those excuses and see how being with God can make a difference in our lives. Being with Christ will lead us to take the grace we receive from Him and spill it out into everything else we do!
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25