Did you know that if you put away $2 a day, five days a week, that from January until December you could have just over $500 saved for Christmas spending!
I think that would help most of us considerably with the Christmas season wouldn’t it? Imagine that Black Friday comes, and you have money saved up (that you almost didn’t miss throughout the year) that you are now able to spend wisely and comfortably on gifts for loved ones. You no longer feel pressured to pull out a credit card, you have something to draw on because you have faithfully and regularly put money away consistently throughout the year.
This is something that I have done for several years now, and I can tell you from experience that it makes a huge difference in how I approach the holiday season. Compare the feeling of planning ahead and diligently setting aside resources, to the empty feeling I had in the years prior, when suddenly it was that time of year, and I had nothing extra. I don’t know about you, but I do not magically have more money in December than I do throughout the rest of the year.
So, after experiencing that empty “what am I gonna do now” feeling over and over, I got smarter. I made a new plan. I began to prepare for a season that I knew was coming, by setting aside some of my regular monthly income early, knowing that though I didn’t need the money for some time, eventually I would, and I would be so relieved when the time came to use it.
And today it hit me.
I have lived long enough to know that, in this life, there will be times of need. Dry and empty times when I will experience some sort of difficulty. And like my saving habits for the holiday season, I need to also “bank” God’s word away in my heart so that when those times come, I have something to draw on.
So much of our everyday lives have spiritual parallels.
It is possible to fight off weariness, some forms of depression and anxiety, and emptiness, by preparing for them in advance!
“Okay Shelli, you’ve lost it. You’ve lost me. What are you even talking about?”
Weariness, anxiety, depression and emptiness are all emotions that drain us. So how do we avoid being completely drained? How do we fill up and have something in reserve when our emotions threaten to run out like the last drop of coffee from the pot?
Well, do you and I read our Bibles? How about prayer? Do we attend worship services? Do we spend time investing in our spiritual lives so that when a trial comes, we have something already inside of our hearts to sustain us?
That’s what Jesus did.
Luke 4:16 records that Jesus “went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.” Going to church, to learn and be taught, was normal even for Jesus. It was His custom. It was something He did regularly.
In Luke 22:32 we see Jesus praying, “But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail.” (Take a moment and Google “Jesus praying”.) The amount of time that Jesus Himself spent in prayer, should challenge us.
Psalm 119:11 reminds us to take time to know God’s word. “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
When I read scripture, I see over and over, a loving, but just God, who consistently draws people to Himself. His mercy and grace overshadow all the difficult times we read about through the pages of His word.
We see it in the account of the prodigal son in Luke 15. We see it in the account of King David in the Psalms. And we see it again in the account of Jesus on the cross, in our place.
But I cannot draw from my spiritual bank account if I have not invested or saved toward it in healthier times.
Just like my Christmas saving fund, I must regularly make deposits if I expect to have anything in there to draw out when I need it most.
A friend put it this way recently. “You don’t train for a marathon AS you’re running it. You must train ahead of time!”
I have spent the better part of this year in particular, feeding my soul regularly. This year, unlike any year before, I have intentionally spent consistent time in His word. I have tried to make knowing God through His word a bigger priority in my life than ever before.
And guess what I have noticed?
He’s given me greater purpose. He’s given me greater peace. He’s even given me greater dreams! But mostly, He’s given me the assurance that His faithfulness will follow me all the days of my life. That as hard times come, I can count on His word to sustain me. I know this will be true because I have purposefully given time toward filling that place in my heart, that I know I can draw from when the time comes.
And it will come. Maybe it already has.
I plan to continue to fill my “bank account” with spiritual deposits. I plan to invest my time as wisely as I can, so that the resources I need are there waiting, when I need them most.
So that when trials, like my Christmas spending habits, threaten to empty my account, I have reserve!
What about you? What changes can you make to help prepare you for the drain that will come? Start today, don’t wait!
Small changes reap big dividends.
Especially spiritual ones!