A Small Thing that Will Change Your Life

By Ryan Dawson 

The famous Chinese proverb reminds us that journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  This truth is helpful when we are thinking about embracing healthy habits and forming spiritual rhythms.  We often know what kind of people we want to be and the habits we wish we embraced, but living this out can be much harder in practice.  

As followers of Christ, we would all say reading the Bible and investing time in our relationship with God is important, but we often struggle to incorporate these rhythms into our lives in meaningful ways.   James Clear in his helpful book Atomic Habits cuts to the heart when he says:  "Your actions reveal how badly you want something. If you keep saying something is a priority but you never act on it, then you don’t really want it. It’s time to have an honest conversation with yourself. Your actions reveal your true motivations."  Ouch!  

To help us grow in our Bible reading habits, we are launching the 90 Day Gospel Reading Challenge on Monday April 8.  Over the next 90 days we will commit to read 1 chapter a day from the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John) and take time to reflect on 3 questions:  1) What does this tell me about God and Jesus?  2) So what difference does this make?   3) Now what does God want me to do?    Taking time to prayerfully reflect on these simple questions will enable us to encounter Jesus in real and meaningful ways.  

I am convinced that there is no better investment you can make than daily Bible reading and reflection.  There is no substitute and no shortcut to spiritual growth, so we need to put the time in to become more like Christ in character and conduct.  But this doesn’t have to be daunting – the journey starts with a single step – a commitment to Day 1, and the willingness to persevere.

James Clear, encourages us to start small, knowing that…  "All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time."  Atomic Habits

I’m reminded that “God does not despise small beginnings” (Zechariah 4:10) and the Kingdom life starts small, like a mustard seed that eventually grows large in impact.   So, the key is to start small and to keep going in your Gospel reading.  And it will become more impactful if you share your journey with others.  Take time to share what you are learning and how God is speaking to you with friends, family, and those in your Impact Community.  Parents, I encourage you to take time at mealtimes to read with your children and ask the three questions.  I think you will be encouraged at the robust discussion around the table.  

According to a scientific study completed in 2010 (Lally et al 2010) it takes on average, more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behaviour, the person, and the circumstances.   This means that if we take time each day (even 15 minutes) to read and reflect on a chapter of the Gospels for 90 days there is a very good chance we will form the habit of daily Bible reading.  

To help in this, we will be handing out 90 Day Gospel Reading Bookmarks in our Sunday services so you can follow along, and even check off each day if that is helpful.  These bookmarks will also be available at Guest Services.  We also have links on our Sequoia App and website where you can download the bookmark and sign up for the daily 90 Day Gospel Reading Challenge notifications.  

Wouldn’t it be amazing to develop this Godly habit, so we become more like Christ?  Wouldn’t it be amazing to experience the presence of Jesus and to hear and respond to God’s leading as we spend time in the Gospels?  Wouldn’t it be amazing to share this journey each day with our church family?  This is what is waiting for you!  

I encourage you to dive in and take on the 90 Day Gospel Reading Challenge, because I am convinced that it will change your life & maybe others as well.  In the same way that mighty Sequoia trees grow from small cones, we will grow "up in Christ-like maturity" when we start small by seeking Christ daily in Bible reading and prayer.  

Blessings, Ryan