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Try and Try Again

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. (Romans 2:7 NIV, emphasis added)

My favorite tea has been discontinued by its producer. A tragedy! I’m quickly running through the approximately year’s supply I snapped up from Amazon as soon as I learned of the change. However, in retrospect, I’m not surprised that the flavor didn’t catch on.

I fell in love with it at work, where I made it with hot water from the dispenser and the tiny shelf-stable cups of half-and-half. But when I first tried the same tea at home, I realized it was a temperamental flavor. Water too hot? Not as good. Milk instead of cream? Not as good. Steep too long? Ugh, disgusting. The difference between steeping two minutes at around 185°F (my guess at the temperature of the dispenser at work) and three minutes at boiling was the difference between my favorite tea and a bitter brew I couldn’t even drink. If I hadn’t happened to try it at work, where the conditions happened to be ideal for this tea, I wouldn’t have tried it a second time.

That made me wonder how many other things in my life seem like they aren’t for me, when in fact I just haven’t tried them under the right circumstances. Now that I work from home as a writer, I’m constantly experimenting with ways to increase my productivity—even just my willingness to sit down and focus! I try different routines to get the kids to bed and to school on time with less nagging from me. I try different routes and driving at different times of day to avoid traffic. So why not try it with God?

We all know we’re supposed to spend time on the spiritual disciplines: prayer, reading the Bible, etc. But they often feel like a chore; even the word discipline has as many negative connotations as positive. However, I think I’ve given up too easily. If reading the Bible at night doesn’t work, what about in the morning? I could sign up for a program that emails me my Bible reading every day and read that with breakfast instead of Twitter. If praying in silence doesn’t work, what about with instrumental hymns in the background? Or if I fall asleep while praying, what about taking a prayer walk? Communing with nature is a time-honored way to also commune with God.

The next time you’re motivated to increase your spiritual discipline, in addition to using well-known motivational methods like setting a goal and doing it with friends, why not go in with a mindset of experimentation? Think of at least three different ways to approach what you’re setting out to do and don’t give up until you’ve tried all of them. You might be surprised to discover a new favorite!

Abigail’s email address is in the directory.

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