"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." James 1:22
This scripture specifically and the concept in general has been hitting me over the head all the time lately. I can't get away from it.
We're all probably familiar with this scripture. It's in the chapter that talks about pure religion in verse 27: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." It's that pesky reminder that no matter how devout and pious and reverent we are, if we don't get out and actually help people and teach ourselves to root out our baser instincts, it pretty much doesn't mean anything at all.
Kind of a bummer, really, because I can be pretty good at the checklist stuff. Daily devotional practice is kind of my thing, right? Those cold showers at 4am really do good stuff for me (sadly, my kids now wake up if I take them at 4, so I have to wait until they're awake, which is admittedly kind of convenient now that it's below freezing outside, but I digress), and my morning kriya and meditation and scripture study feed my soul. They teach me how to commune with God, and there's literally nothing more awesome than that.
Unfortunately, they can also make me feel like I'm making more progress than I am sometimes. Did you know there are two more important verses after verse 22? Check this out: "For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was."
This is such a perfect description of my daily routine. Meditation enables and forces you to see clearly. There's no greater gift, really, because knowing whom you actually are in reality is super empowering. If you don't act intentionally afterward, however, it's really easy to forget at rather alarming speeds everything you learn each morning. If I receive instructions in the morning and don't immediately take action by at least writing them down, they are gone, and I'm left to myself until the next time I decide to tune in to something bigger than myself. Being left to myself is not pretty, just for the record.
Even though I've "had Christmas up" at my house since the day after Thanksgiving, which is unheard of for this procrastinator, and even though Christmas is one of my favorite things, I've been struggling to feel Christmassy this year. It's been bothering me and making me wonder where I'm defective. A little meditation this morning made it really obvious--the point of this season is to celebrate Christ. I can't celebrate Christ if I'm not utilizing his gifts, and I can't utilize his gifts if I'm not practicing pure religion. The more clearly I begin to see each morning, the less hearing the word can comfort and uplift me as I continue not to do.
"If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain." James was on point with this epistle, I tell ya. Jesus can't make my heart rejoice if my tongue is busy being negative or petty or ungrateful. And he really can't if it's busy yelling at my kids. These are all kind of "duh" insights, but I needed them today. I've been preoccupied lately with some stuff that I think is truly important, but what I was reminded of was that if I can't be a kind and generous person in my daily life, especially with the people closest to me, nothing else I do matters.
Our home teacher, who happens to be our brother-in-law, challenged us at the beginning of last month to do something every day that we needed to work on. I committed to one act of service every day, because that's what I'm hands-down the worst at. I totally failed, which is pretty embarrassing. My bandwidth for things I'm able to accomplish each day is pitiful, and I finally stopped beating myself up for that a while ago and instead began to pare down my list, including only the things that mattered to me. What I'm now learning is I have some more cutting out to do, as well as some organizing.
I don't think that means I'm taking a break from writing, but if I do happen to be quiet for a little bit (inconceivable!!!), hopefully it means I'm spending more time figuring out how to DO. If I'm going to enjoy Christmas this year, I guess I have to seek Jesus in the places where he keeps telling me he is. As always, he requires some initial discomfort and shifting around of priorities before I can receive him.
Merry Christmas and Sat Nam, ever'body.
Exploring the spiritual side of things. Brevity is not my forte.