The Substitute for Habit

A couple of weeks ago, it was my birthday, and I e-mailed my brother about an idea I had. I want to write a book by the end of this year. Or at least have a half-decent first draft of one. I worked out it would take about 3,000 words a week. I asked him if he would be willing to read my 3,000 every week and give me some feedback. Friday’s are my submission day.

Now, I usually get nervous about telling other people my resolutions, especially when I’ve kept them going for less than two months, even more so when I’ve only managed two weeks! But I’ve learnt something these last two weeks. And it’s not that other people help me keep to targets, and are really encouraging (although that is true!).

What I’ve learnt is the simple fact there is no substitute for practice. You see, I meant to do this project in January, as my new years resolution. Instead I focused on these youtube seminars by an author: Branden Sanderson. And also, I started reading Creative Writing for Dummies. I feel like I learnt a lot.

However, I remember my first week, I really struggled to put my ideas into words. Simple fact though, next week it got easier. I’m not saying it will only ever get easier, of course it won’t. I’m also not saying all that reading and watching and note taking was useless, it definitely helped!  But there was no substitute for practice.


…before I jump into a substitution metaphor related to football or something. Practice is also really important for consistency. You see, I don’t reckon that there’s many people who can flick a switch on and overnight become a consistently consistent person. No, they needed practice. If you are struggling to consistently get up early for your quiet times (there we go,  I spiritualized it!), practice. Don’t be afraid to fail, just keep practicing. See every oversleep, as an opportunity to try again tomorrow.

My mind is now racing for a scripture…resisting the urge to google one…Micah 7…Or 6. 7.

But as for me, I will look to ADONAI, I will wait for the God of my Salvation; my God will hear me. Enemies of mine, don’t gloat over me! Although I have fallen, I will rise; though I live in the dark, ADONAI is my light….That will be the day for rebuilding your walls 

Micah 7:7-8,11

So more often than not, I tend to write these organically. I don’t have a plan with where their going, just with the goal in mind that they glorify God, even if it’s through my weakness.

Above, in my opinion is worldly knowledge. It’s the sort of thing you’d read in a self-help book. Maybe even in  a Christian self-help one. A relatively safe bottom line, that you could probably work out, and test according to experience. The Bible passage I quoted seems to fit. So it must be true. I’m not saying its not. I’m just saying the Bible actually has a better answer to what is the substitute for Habit.

I reckon it’s Dependence on God and a focus on Him.

Matthew 6 I reckon it could be applied to Habits, quite as well as Food, Drink & Clothing. Because it says “For it is pagans who set their hearts on these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all.”

Consider firstly, how many pagan (“non-Christian”) books there are on habits: “they set their hearts on these things”…Consider the words of Psalm 1, about the blessed man who meditates on His Word (Scripture) “day and night”…Is that not some that God our “Father knows you need”? What’s Jesus’ answer for those seeking after Habits?

Matthew 6.33: Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Maybe it’s a big leap? Consider as well the words of Romans 8:13 “If, BY THE SPIRIT, you keep putting to death the practices of the body, you will live”. We are called to fight our sin “By the Spirit”, in His power, strength and ability.

When it comes to building habits, the true substitute is Pursuing God. Practice helps…But God helps more. Pray, get on your knees, get into God’s word (Eph 6.17), call on His name.. It may be that the habit you want to build isn’t what God wants, no matter how “Christian”…Live by His Spirit, by His strength. Do everything to Glorify Him. 

Longest blog-post yet, I reckon. Thanks for coming on my meandering journey, with me, this morning.

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