By Jean Fleming
No choice I’ve made as a follower of Christ has shaped me more profoundly than the choice to keep a daily date with Jesus. Actually, I make two choices. One, to keep the date and, two, to keep it an affair of the heart. I make these choices over and over.
Our choices shape us. It’s in my date with the Lord that I see Him and I hear, “I am yours and you are mine.” He reminds me that I am forgiven and blessed, that He measures success differently, that where I’m weak He’s strong. Transformation begins here, from the inside out. In our date Jesus gives me something fresh to give to the generations behind me. I believe the choice to keep my date with the Lord has kept me from frittering my life away.
Our choices also reveal us. My choices keep me honest. They help me see if I actually value what I say I value. A thousand possibilities compete for my time and affection. What I choose reveals my values and beliefs. Recently, a mother of young children told me that she gets up 30 minutes before her children—to do Pinterest. Although she would not say that Pinterest is among her highest values, it’s Pinterest that gets her up in the morning.
This year my husband and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary in Hawaii on our way to visit our son, who lives in Japan. We’re early risers even on vacation. Even so, surfer boys were straddling their boards when we got up in the morning. One morning before 6 a.m., I counted approximately 30 surfers waiting for the next good wave. What’s going on here? Teens like to sleep late. I assume their mothers aren’t nagging them to get out of bed and go surfing. So what gets them up?
Desire. It’s an affair of the heart. I suspect that surfers never ask themselves if getting up early to surf is legalistic. Surfers know that desire and discipline feed one another. Desire plus discipline equals delight.
I cannot create desire for God. Desire for God is a gift at the new birth. But I can feed it. I can also drain desire’s holy energy from my life by neglecting my dates with God. So when my desire for God is at low tide, I still keep my date with Jesus. Desire’s tide soon rises again.
Andrew Murray wrote, “The desire and the choice prove what a man is already and decide what he is to become.” This means that our desire and our choice are both indicator and prognosticator.
At 74-years old, my physical energy is diminished. The adventure continues. I must choose where I will spend my time and energy. As I approach the finish line, one thing becomes clear to me: I will end up with the life I’ve chosen.
I’ve kept a morning date with Jesus almost every day for 57 years. I believe this choice has given my life a consistent narrative. This is not an achievement. It is a grace.
Jean Fleming and her husband, Roger, have served as Navigators for 50 years. Their first assignment was in San Diego, followed by ministry in Korea, Okinawa, Tucson, Seattle and Colorado Springs. Today Jean and Roger are doing volunteer grassroots ministry in Montrose, Colorado. Jean is the author of five books published by NavPress, including A Mother’s Heart and, most recently, Pursue the Intentional Life.